Eyeing Qatari Cash, Hamas Says ‘Time Not Playing in Israel’s Favor’

(Israel Hayom) —
Palestinians receive their $100 financial aid as part of the aid allocated by Qatar in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Feb. 4. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas has threatened to resume terrorist attacks against Israel unless it gets its hands on donor cash free of any preconditions, Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported Wednesday.

In the wake of May’s conflict between Israel and the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, the former had demanded better regulations of the millions of dollars Qatar delivers to Hamas every month.

The chief demand is that the funds not be handed to Hamas in cash, but through a mechanism of wire transfers, so as to ensure that they reach those who need them and not Hamas officials or the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.

According to the report, Hamas has informed Egypt, which is trying to broker a long-term ceasefire, that “time is not playing in Israel’s favor” on this issue.

Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi is said to be sparing no effort to resolve the issue prior to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, marked next week.

Al-Akhbar noted that the Palestinian Authority opposes wiring the funds through its postal bank, which handled the funds before. Ramallah demands to have absolute discretion over the funds, and also wants to collect commissions and other fees for handling them.

On Tuesday, Egyptian mediators told Al-Akhbar they were “optimistic” that Israel and Hamas will soon implement the first step of a prisoner exchange deal, a critical step to stabilizing the fragile Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

According to the pro-Hamas daily, as part of the first round of the prisoner deal, Hamas would exchange information on the fate of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers held by the terrorist group in Gaza in return for the release of several female Palestinian security prisoners.

Hamas is holding the remains of IDF Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, who were killed in the Strip in separate battles during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Israeli Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015 and were captured by Hamas.

Al-Akhbar’s report did not detail the identities or the number of prisoners Hamas would like to see released.

Since May’s hostilities between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist groups, Yerushalayim has sought to impose increased restrictions on Gaza, including severely limiting imports and exports, except for humanitarian goods.

During the fighting, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists fired over 4,300 rockets at southern and central Israel, while military strikes pounded terror targets, causing what international experts believe is some $290 million in damage in the coastal enclave.

Both Israel and Egypt have blockaded the Gaza Strip for almost 15 years – a measure imposed after Hamas seized control of the enclave from rival Fatah in a military coup in 2007.

Israeli officials said they would condition permission to rebuild Gaza on progress and easing of increased restrictions to achieve a prisoner swap with Hamas.

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