Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit to Israel on Tuesday that the US will lead an international effort to rebuild Gaza while ensuring that the funds don’t end up in the pockets of Hamas.
Since Hamas forcefully took over the Gaza Strip in 2006 from the Palestinian Authority, Israel has tacitly encouraged the split between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which reduced the pressure on Israel to reach a “two-state” solution. As part of this tactic, Netanyahu has for years allowed Qatar to directly give Hamas millions of dollars a month in order to weaken the legitimacy of the PA.
“It’s not rocket science, so to speak,” a senior European official said. ” A guy from Qatar comes every month with his suitcases of money accompanied by Israeli soldiers to pay Hamas administrative staff. That then disappears.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has recommended that international aid for the reconstruction of Gaza be transferred to the PA who will then transfer it to Gazan civilians, preventing Hamas from using the funds for its own nefarious purposes.
Hamas leader Yaha Sinwar responded to the reports by stating on Wednesday that the terror group “has sufficient financial resources…much of which is from Iran, and some from Arab and Muslim donors and citizens of the world who support our people and their rights.”
He “reassured” potential international donors by saying that Hamas will ensure that the distribution of funds is transparent and “not a penny of [reconstruction aid] will go to Hamas.”
Defense Minister Gantz told Kan 11 News that his ministry is “examining how to transfer the Qatari money. We want to offer better methods for transferring the money and project monitoring. We are currently working on the relevant mechanisms and proposals. We will not go back to what happened before.”
However, monitoring a terror group is easier said than done and as is well-known, Hamas rules the Strip with an iron fist.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)