Israel Approves Transfer of Qatari Payment; Hamas Refuses

Hamas terrorists take part in the funeral of their comrade Mahmoud Al-Nabaheen in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

An Israeli official said that Israel has approved the transfer of the third $15 million payment of Qatari aid to the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday blocked the transfer after a Palestinian sniper shot an IDF soldier along the Gaza border, lightly wounding him. But the Israeli official said Thursday that security officials have now decided to allow the transfer.

Meanwhile, although Israel allowed the transfer of the Qatari payment in the Gaza Strip, Hamas Thursday refused to accept the money.

“The preconditions that were given by Israel for securing the Qatar payments were unacceptable. We consider this as a breach of the ceasefire agreement and Israel will bear the responsibility for this,” Hamas’s deputy leader Khalil al-Haya said in a press conference addressing the transfer. “Gaza will not be part of blackmail or a theater for Israeli election festivals.”

Media reports claimed that Hamas refused the payment over objections to the new system of payment, which for the first time would see the funds distributed through bank payments rather than cash payments. Israel pushed for bank transfers because they would be easier to trace than cash.

“We affirm that the march or return will continue until the Palestinian national rights are achieved,” al-Haya added, confirming fears that the refusal might be used to justify intensification of the Friday border protests.

Shortly afterwards, the Qatari emissary was reported to be leaving the Gaza Strip.