Palestinians in Gaza receive new Qatari aid

Gaza is home to around two million Palestinians. (AFP/File)
Updated 11 March 2019
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Palestinians in Gaza receive new Qatari aid

  • The $100 payments will be given to 55,000 families in the city
  • Qatar has earlier promised to send $15 million a month for six month to Hamas

GAZA: Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza began receiving $100 payouts from Qatar on Monday, the latest tranche of funds under an informal deal between the territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel.
A flare-up of violence along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip this month has threatened another escalation between the two sides, but the Qatari cash could help ease tensions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Hamas he would not hesitate to launch a “large-scale operation” in Gaza.
Many analysts however believe he wants to avoid a conflict with unpredictable results while campaigning for re-election in Israel’s April 9 polls.
The Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, in a statement, said “disbursement began Monday of the fourth payment of cash assistance to poor families in the Gaza Strip.”
In total 55,000 families in the strip would receive payments of $100 each.
Thousands of Palestinians could be seen queueing early at post offices across Gaza.
“I am here to receive $100, but $100 does not solve the crisis,” said Bassam Khalil Jaber, 40. “We need permanent solutions, and this grant is a temporary solution.”
In November, the Gulf state, which is a longtime Hamas ally, committed to around $15 million a month in aid over six months.
In exchange, Hamas committed to relative calm along the Israeli border, which has been rocked by often violent Hamas-backed protests since March 2018.
But the deal became a major bone of political contention in Israel — whose territory was used for delivery of the cash — and also in Gaza.
Part of the funds were originally used to pay salaries of Hamas employees, but this was stopped after political criticism in Israel.
Instead much of the money will be funneled into cash for work programs with the United Nations.
The impoverished strip, which has a population of around two million, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
Israel says it is necessary to isolate Hamas but critics say it amounts to collective punishment of residents of the densely-populated coastal territory.
The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.


Gibraltar court extends detention of Iranian tanker for 30 days

Updated 23 min 32 sec ago
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Gibraltar court extends detention of Iranian tanker for 30 days

  • The Grace 1 was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4
  • Supertanker was believed destined for Syria to deliver oil

GIBRALTAR: Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that a seized Iranian tanker suspected of breaching sanctions by shipping oil to Syria can be detained for 30 more days, the British territory’s attorney general said.
The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4 as it transited through waters claimed by Gibraltar, which is located on Spain’s southern tip.
An initial order by the court authorizing the detention of the vessel would lapse after Friday. The order can be renewed for up to 90 days.
“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament.
Picardo said Thursday he had a “constructive and positive” meeting with Iranian officials in London aimed at defusing tensions around the detention of the tanker in the British territory’s waters.
Gibraltar and US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.
Iran has reacted with fury to what it termed “piracy” and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.
Last week, a British warship in the Gulf warned off armed Iranian boats that tried to stop a UK supertanker. London has since announced the deployment of two more warships to the Gulf region for the coming months.
The Gibraltar court ruling comes as tensions in the Gulf region mounted Friday after Washington said an Iranian drone was destroyed after threatening an American naval vessel at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.
It was believed to be the first US military engagement with Iran following a series of increasingly serious incidents.
Iran denied losing any drones.