7:37 am ET, December 11, 2023
Qatar will continue payments to Gaza, top official tells CNN
From CNN’s Adam Bourahmati in Doha, Nima Elbakir and Barbara Arvanidis in Tel Aviv and Ivana Kotasova in London
“We are not going to change our mandate. Our mandate is our continued help and support to our brothers and sisters in Palestine. We will continue to do it as we have done before,” said Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi.
His comments come amid growing anger in Israel over years of payments to the Gulf state’s Hamas, a deal that sees Qatari diplomats visit the enclave every month. Suitcases with $15 million in cash.
The cash disbursement will help pay Gaza’s civil servants. Images in 2018 showed workers lining up to receive $100 bills.
Israel approved the deal at a Defense Cabinet meeting in August 2018, when Benjamin Netanyahu was previously prime minister. At the time, Netanyahu was criticized for being soft on Hamas.
Netanyahu backed the initiative after Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza, Mohamed Al Emadi, delivered the first suitcases of cash in November 2018.
“I am doing everything I can in coordination with the security experts to return peace to the (Israeli) villages in the south, but also to prevent a humanitarian disaster (in Gaza). This is a process. At this time, I think it is the right move,” Netanyahu said.
Among his critics at the time was then-Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who called the funds “security money”. Bennett later became Prime Minister himself in a short-lived government that spanned the political spectrum.
On Sunday, he told CNN he stopped accepting payments in cash once he became prime minister, calling the cash suitcases a “terrible mistake.”
“Why should we feed them? [Hamas] Money to kill us [Israelis]?” asked Bennett.
Growing Reviews: The deal is one of the reasons why many Israelis today personally blame Netanyahu in part for the October 7 Hamas terror attack. Countless people told CNN that allowing the payments strengthened Hamas and, ultimately, made the brutal attacks worse.
Retired Major General Amos Gilad, who argued against giving money to Hamas when he was in the defense establishment, told CNN on Sunday that the money was “like oxygen” and that Hamas used it to strengthen its grip on Gaza.