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Gaza bank returns Qatari grant for fear of Israeli sanctions

The Gaza branch of the Arab Bank refused to receive a Qatari grant on Saturday, fearing Israeli sanctions, Anadolu news agency reported.

According to Hamas political bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Arab Bank has turned down a Qatari grant to the Gazan government worth $20 million. The grant was sent to help resolve the payroll crisis in the besieged Gaza strip, as civil servants have not received their May salaries yet, unlike their West Bank counterparts.

Bank officials have not provided any explanation for the move.

A Palestinian banker, however, revealed on Friday that Palestinian banks refused to receive the Qatari grant to avoid potential sanctions that would be imposed by Israel should they accept the grant.

The banker, who asked to remain anonymous, said that sanctions would target any bank operating on Palestinian territories if it received the Qatari grant.

Abu Marzouk reaffirmed that Hamas is working diligently with all sides to resolve the payroll crisis in Gaza, stressing that “Palestinian unity cannot be built on injustice and inequality among the people.”

The Gaza Strip has witnessed extensive protests by government employees against the delay in receiving their salaries unlike their Ramallah counterparts. Approximately 50,000 Gazan civil servants, who work for the ex-Hamas government, have not received their May salaries, worth a total of $40 million. Hamas says it agreed with Fatah movement in April that the unity government would pay the salaries of all government employees in the West Bank and Gaza. The pay sent by the Palestinian government, however, excluded those who work for the ex-Hamas government.

The Ramallah government has requested its employees in the Gaza Strip to abstain from going to work after the Palestinian division of 2007, promising to continue to pay their salaries. The Hamas government had to replace them with 50,000 other civil servants in different ministries and agencies.

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