Israeli officials have been left confused by Hamas’ refusal to receive much needed funds from Qatar.
The $15 million grant had been delayed twice this year with Israel insisting that “calm” needed to be achieved on its western border with the Gaza Strip before any money would be allowed in to the besieged enclave.
Speaking at a press conference after Israel announced that it had approved the funds transfer, senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said Gaza could not accept the money because of the conditions which Israel had placed on the transfer. He added that Gaza would not be blackmailed or allow itself to become part of Israel’s election playground.
The move was hailed by Palestinian factions.
‘Step in the right direction’
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) described Hamas’ move as a “step in the right direction.”
Senior PFLP leader Maher Mizher said: “The Israeli exploitation of the Qatari funds is fully rejected. Financial blackmail is absolutely unaccepted.”
“The Qatari grant must not be connected to the cessation of the protests of the Great March of Return. We do not accept bartering it with any financial gains.”
Palestinians have been holding weekly protests against Israel’s stifling 12-year blockage of the Strip since 30 March last year. According to figures released by the UN, some 250 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation army since the protests began
Responding to Hamas’ refusal to accept the funds, the People’s Party said: “Hamas’ rejection of the Qatari grant deserves to be appreciated.”
It called for an “urgent solution to the crisis of the unpaid Palestinian employees, who should have been paid with funds from the Qatari grant.”
However senior Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad said: “Hamas’ refusal to accept the Qatari grant is a dirty act.”
He added: “Hamas is inflicting suffering on the Palestinians and it is now starving the Palestinians in Gaza by refusing to allow their money in.”
Hamas is holding Israel ‘by the neck’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came under criticism too for allowing the funds in to Gaza, MK Haim Jelin said the premier’s move has enabled Hamas to “control our life”.
“Hamas controls out entry and exit into and from shelters. It decided to refuse Netanyahu’s decision – to allow the Qatari funds into Gaza. Again it is controlling our life.”
He added: “There is no leadership [in Israel]. There is not deterrence … The cabinet is working without a backbone … You have to leave. You failed.”
While Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni warned that Netanyahu’s move means: “Hamas is holding us by the neck.”
“Netanyahu has gotten us into a dangerous deal with Hamas … It is embarrassing and dangerous for the residents of the periphery and for all of Israel,” Livni added.
This “embarrassing” position was hailed by prominent Palestinian political analyst Abdel-Sattar Qassim who described Hamas’ move as “courageous”, adding it “will break down the Israeli extortion of the Palestinian resistance.”
Speaking to the Safa News Agency, Qasim added: “The Israeli occupation used the Qatari funds to bring Gaza to its knees, but the heroic position of the Palestinian resistance deterred the Israeli arrogance.”
Despite starvation and siege, the Palestinian people reiterate through such positions that they are ready to sacrifice more for the sake of their rights and dignity. They prove that they will never fall hostage for money.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian specialist in the Israeli affairs Saleh Al-Naami said: “The direct value of Hamas’ refusal to accept the Qatari grant reinforces the situation of no certainty among the Zionist decision-makers.”
“Hamas mixed the cards in Tel Aviv in a way that went far beyond the Israeli calculations. This establishes new rules regarding the Israeli treatment of Gaza.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.