Tensions flare during Qatari visit to Gaza

Protests broke on Monday during the visit of the Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi.

Al-Emadi’s visit heralded a renewed commitment to the embattled Gaza Strip by the Qatari regime who have, under Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has provided persistent financial aid and reconstruction assistance.

Al-Emadi announced a $9 million emergency aid package during his visit but was criticised for not properly addressing the plight of the Gazan people, according to a report by The Times of Israel.

Protestors claimed that aid should be delivered directly to the citizens of Gaza and not to its public institutions, reported Ynet News.

Ynet News also reported that among the protestors were a number of hospital cleaners who are part of an on-going strike over withheld wages. The cleaners reportedly held up signs reading, ‘Thank you, Qatar.’

Earlier this month, al-Emadi drew controversy by highlighting the need to engage with Israel to deliver aid and reconstruction efforts to Gaza.

In an interview with the Associated Press, al-Emadi said; ‘When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis. Without the help of Israel, nothing happens.’

Qatar does not currently hold diplomatic relations with Israel.

A blockade has been imposed on Qatar since August of last year by most of the Arab League, coordinated by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE who accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and have called on the oil-rich emirate to disengage with regional partners such as Turkey and Iran, and to close the Al-Jazeera network for alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

As a result of the blockade, Qatar has been unable to deliver aid to Gaza through Egypt and the Rafah border crossing.

The United States has called on the Gulf nations to reengage but has fallen short of negotiating any lasting solution.

Qatar’s continued support for Gaza and the Hamas regime has been a point of contention for the United States who designate Hamas a terrorist organisation and the illegitimate governing body in Gaza.

Earlier this month, the United States added Ismail Hanieyah, the Chief of the Hamas Politiburo, to the list of designated terrorists. Such a move complicates the stalling peace process brokered by Egypt between Fatah and Hamas.

During his visit, al-Emadi reaffirmed calls for calm in the region and that neither ‘side’, Israel or Hamas, wanted war.

‘We confirm through our relationship with the two sides that they are not interested in escalation or engaging in a confrontation that could ignite the entire region,’ al-Emadi told reporters in Gaza City.

The aid package to be delivered to Gaza will include $2 million in medical supplies as well as $500,000 for fuel to power backup generators in Gaza’s public health centres.

Reportedly, trucks loaded with supplies and decorated with Qatari flags and posters of emirate’s beloved Emir, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, could be seen outside Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital near where al-Emadi met with UN officials.

*Pictures courtesy of Days of Palestine – https://twitter.com/DaysofPalestine/status/965871120116322304