Qatar envoy says Gaza aid to flow soon
Qatar's envoy to Gaza said Monday that aid from his country will be distributed soon in the Palestinian enclave, including to employees of the Hamas government.
Qatari support is considered a crucial lifeline for impoverished Palestinians living in Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007, the year Hamas Islamists took power.
Before the latest Gaza conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in May, the flow of funds from Qatar was considered vital to maintaining relative calm between the Jewish state and the Islamists.
But Israel has said it was opposed to a resumption of the funding under the terms that existed before May's hostilities, claiming money was being used by armed groups rather than strictly for humanitarian needs.
The stalemate appeared to have been resolved late last month when Israel and Qatar announced approval of a new mechanism to distribute the funds, with money transferred directly to individuals by the United Nations.
Under the scheme, Israeli-approved recipients in Gaza will be issued UN credit cards to withdraw the funds, sources familiar with the arrangement have said.
But the aid distribution had not yet started and unrest persisted, with Palestinians staging protests and violent riots along the Gaza-Israel border. Israeli forces responded, at times with lethal force.
A source within Hamas said a sticking point was its insistence that civil servants employed by the Islamists be allowed to benefit from Qatari aid.
Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi, who is currently in Gaza, said Monday that "all the details" regarding the distribution mechanism "have been reviewed and the process will begin shortly".
Civil servants in Gaza's Hamas-run government can be considered approved recipients, "following an agreement by the different parties", Emadi said.
Qatar pledged $500 million for Gaza following the May 10-21 conflict that killed 260 Palestinians, including fighters, in the strip, according to local authorities.
In Israel, Palestinian rocket fire killed 13 people, including a soldier, according to the military and police.