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Qatar’s Emadi arrives in Gaza as Great March enters 71st week

Qatar ambassador Mohammed El-Amadi (C) is greeted by Head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar (R) and other officials in Gaza on 24 January 2019 [Mohamed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Qatar Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi (C) is greeted by Head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar (R) and other officials in Gaza on 24 January 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi, yesterday arrived in Gaza City through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip.

His visit coincided with the 71st Friday of the Great March of Return, which aims to break Israel’s 12-year-old siege of the Strip and calls for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Al-Emadi arrived in Gaza to discuss the truce between the Palestinian factions and Israel, as well as to monitor projects financially supported by Qatar. This comes amid Israeli reports indicating that the latest instalment of Qatari funds to Gaza, estimated at $30 million, has been approved for transfer.

The Palestinian factions reached understandings with the Israeli government at the end of 2018 under Egyptian, Qatari and UN mediation, in order to ease the siege on Gaza in return for the cessation of Palestinian protests near the border fence.

However, according to Palestinians Israel has not abided by the terms of the truce, nor eased its siege on the Strip.

Read: Israel actively pushing Palestinians to leave Gaza

The High National Commission of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege therefore issued a statement yesterday vowing to hold the Israeli authorities fully responsible for any attack on Great March demonstrators.

The commission also said that it has decided to mobilise the crowd in support of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of an arson attack committed against the holy site and in light of Israel’s continued aggressive policies on the compound.

The commission stressed “its keenness on ensuring the safety of participants in the marches and sparing people injuries caused by the crimes committed by the occupation”. It also pointed out that Palestinians are “affirming their adherence to the right of return as a non-bargaining and inalienable right.”

Read: Palestinian lawyers protest Israeli siege on Gaza

Since March 2018, Palestinians have been participating in the Great March of Return near the fence separating Gaza from Israel, demanding the return of refugees to the towns and villages from which they were expelled in 1948 and lifting the siege on the Strip.

The Israeli army violently repressed these marches, killing dozens of Palestinians and injuring thousands more.

This comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strengthened his rhetoric against Gaza and threatened to launch a large-scale military operation inside the Strip. Such a move is believed to be part of his electoral campaign, with some commentators speculating that Netanyahu could provoke a war to avoid holding the do-over poll in light of poor polling figures.

This verbal escalation has been echoed by a number of Netanyahu’s cabinet ministers and raises questions about the seriousness of these threats. Similarly, Israel’s de facto opposition, head of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) party Benny Gantz, has also threatened to “pound” Gaza if he is elected prime minister on 17 September.

Read: ‘Gazans’ access to medical care is a basic human right’

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