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Qatar pledges $150 million in aid to Gaza

Oct. 11, 2018 11:27 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2018 12:34 P.M.)
DOHA (Ma'an) -- Qatar pledged $150 million in aid for the besieged Gaza Strip a day after the first truckload of Qatari-funded fuel arrived at Gaza's only power plant.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry said, in a statement, that the aid had been pledged via the Qatar Development Fund, the government body responsible for distributing Qatar's foreign aid.

The ministry said "Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, the Qatar Development Fund has pledged $150 million in humanitarian aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip."

The statement added that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) would oversee distribution of the aid.

On Tuesday, the first truckload of Qatari-funded fuel entered Gaza from Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which is Gaza’s main commercial crossing.

The truck brought the first delivery out of a $60 million fuel donation by Qatar meant to provide the power plant with enough fuel to operate for the next six months.

According to Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 15 truckloads of Qatari fuel are expected to soon begin entering Gaza on a daily basis.

However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) objected the Qatari move, as the entry of fuel shipments was not done in coordination with it and due to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opposing the foreign relief plan for Gaza.

The Gaza Strip has been controlled by the Hamas movement since 2007 and Abbas has been using economic pressure, in order to seize control back to the PA.

The UN said that Israel's nearly 12-year blockade of Gaza has resulted in a "catastrophic" humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem condemned Israel’s steps towards Gaza "Israel has the power to immediately change life in Gaza for the better, but has chosen not to do so. It has made Gaza a huge prison, yet forbids the prisoners even to protest against this, on pain of death."

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

Gaza's residents endure distressing living conditions, including a shortage of safe drinking water and regular power cuts, partly due to a lack of fuel for Gaza's power plant, as well as receiving an average of just four hours of electricity per day.

The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years, including damage to the enclave's water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN to warn that Gaza could be "uninhabitable" by 2020.

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