Qatar delivers millions in desperately needed aid to Gaza, promises to help solve electricity crisis
A Qatari delegation delivered $20 million in cash to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, with the aim of also pushing for a project to build a new power line from Israel to the besieged coastal territory.
Qatar is looking to meet Gaza's energy requirements by funding a new power line costing $11 million a month, taking over from the Palestinian Authority which stopped footing the strip's electricity bill last year.
The powerline would carry 100 megawatts of energy, claimed a Kan news report, and take three years to complete.
The Qatari delegation, headed by the chief of Qatar's National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, brought the $20 million aid injection. It will be handed out in installments of $100 dollars to 108,000 families, Haaretz reported, with the rest of the money going towards electricity and humanitarian projects.
An agreement reached in January allocated a total of $400 pounds to famillies, to be received in four installments.
Qatar said it had allocated $480 million in aid to the cash-strapped PA to support education and health services and provide urgent humanitarian relief in May.
In November, Qatar pledged to send $15 million to Gaza monthly as part of an informal agreement between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.
Under that deal Israel allowed the grants to go through its territory in exchange for relative calm on the Gaza border.
The aid comes after a serious flare-up in Gaza - the most serious since the 2014 war. The May escalation began when Israel killed four Palestinians during a demonstration in Gaza, triggering a round of Palestinian rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on the besieged enclave.
Among the 24 Palestinian casualties were a pregnant Palestinian mother and her baby, while four civilians in Israel were killed.
The PA led by President Mahmoud Abbas has been hit by the cutting of two of its leading sources of revenues.
Washington has ended all bilateral US aid in response to the Palestinians' severing of contacts after it recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017.
A row with Israel has meanwhile led to a halt to transfers of customs duties it levies on goods destined for Palestinian markets.
In February, Israel decided to deduct around $10 million a month from customs receipts it transfers to the Palestinians, corresponding to the amount it said they paid families of prisoners or directly to inmates serving time in Israeli jails.
The Palestinians responded by saying they would refuse any funds where unilateral deductions had been made.
Israel sees the payments to those who have carried out attacks against Israelis as encouraging further violence.
The Palestinian Authority describes the payments as a form of welfare, while the Palestinian public regards prisoners jailed by Israel as national heroes.
Gas-rich Qatar is a major aid donor to the Palestinians, both to Abbas's West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and to the rival Gaza administration of Islamist group Hamas.
The impoverished strip, which has a population of around two million, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
Residents receive on average only four hours of electricity a day, and the unemployment rate is one of the world's highest.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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