New Qatari funds for Hamas employees expected this week: official

The funds will cover salaries of around 40,000 Hamas civil servants. Above, a Hamas police officer checks documents at the Rafah border crossing in Gaza. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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New Qatari funds for Hamas employees expected this week: official

  • The $15 million funds are expected to reach Gaza in the upcoming few days and be distributed immediately
  • The funds will cover salaries of around 40,000 Hamas civil servants

GAZA CITY: A fresh tranche of Qatari funds for Hamas civil servants in Gaza will be delivered via Israel this week, the Qatar ambassador to the Palestinian enclave said Monday.
Mohammed Al-Emadi is expected to bring the $15 million into the strip in the coming days, with funds to be distributed immediately.
“We are due to go to Gaza before the end of the week, most likely on Wednesday night,” Emadi told AFP by message from Doha. “We will pay the third payment,” he added, referring to two payments in previous months.
The funds pay the salaries of roughly 40,000 Hamas civil servants, as well as providing financial assistance to poor families in the empoverished strip.
They are injected with Israeli blessings after an informal truce deal between the Jewish state and the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
Under the deal months of Hamas-backed protests along the border remain relatively quiet.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced right-wing criticism of the agreement, with his defense minister resigning in November accusing him of being soft on Hamas.
Separately Monday the World Health Organization warned it was “concerned” over the impact of critical fuel shortages in Gaza.
The strip suffers from chronic energy shortages, though the crisis had been eased in recent months with Qatar also allowed to import fuel to run Gaza’s sole power plant.
“The functionality of Gaza’s 14 public hospitals is increasingly jeopardized by electricity shortages,” the WHO said in a statement.
“Several of the most severely impacted hospitals have already put rationalization measures in place.
“Drastic service reductions, including closures of wards and hospitals, are imminent,” it added, saying hospitals had fuel reserves for only a few more days.


Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.