Hamas terrorist group threatens to renew fighting if Qatari funds don’t enter Gaza next week
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If Israel does not allow the passage of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip, Hamas will escalate the situation on the border with Israel, sources in the terror group told Lebanese media on Friday.
With Israel’s approval, Qatar has in recent years distributed hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to enable Gaza’s Hamas rulers to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, pay civil servants, and provide aid to tens of thousands of impoverished families.
Hamas sources told the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper that the organization would wait until the end of next week for the money to enter, “and if this does not happen it will take an important decision regarding the mutual ceasefire” that took effect two weeks ago, after 11 days of fighting with Israel.
A senior Hamas official in January said Qatar would be providing $30 million every month, meant for poor families in the Gaza Strip.
Qatar is a key backer of Hamas and has invested some $1.4 billion in the coastal enclave since 2012, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said at a financial conference in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday.
Al-Thani rejected frequent accusations that the Qatari money goes to the terror organizations in Gaza and argued that Israel knows how the money is transferred, the Ynet news site reported.
According to the Lebanese report, the group threatened to “use pressure in the border area,” and may also resort to options that could “renew the widescale confrontation,” without elaborating further.
Israel and Hamas concluded 11 days of fighting last month during which the terror group launched some 4,300 rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and Israel launched hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, 253 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, including 66 children. Palestinian terror groups in Gaza have said 80 of the total casualties were combatants, while Israel says the true figure is much higher.
Thirteen people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were killed. Israel says dozens of the Gaza fatalities were caused by Hamas rockets that fell short and landed inside the Strip.
Since the ceasefire took effect on May 20, there has been no rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel. However, on Sunday night a Palestinian who crossed from the Strip stabbed a security guard, lightly injuring him outside an Israeli town near the enclave.
On Monday, a fire in southern Israel was apparently sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip.
Friday’s threats from unnamed officials in the terror group were not the first since the ceasefire began.
A leader of the terror group in Gaza threatened last Wednesday to resume rocket attacks if Israel “violates” the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, while a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing told a crowd of supporters last week that it will respond to any Israeli escalation in kind, after some Israeli officials called for a harsher response to the terror group, including the renewal of assassinations of Hamas leaders.