Hamas: Qatar paying public salaries by sending fuel to Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s Hamas rulers have reached an agreement by which Qatar will resume subsidizing the salaries of public employees by sending fuel to the impoverished territory, a Hamas official said Tuesday.
Qatar was contributing to the salaries of some 50,000 employees of the Hamas-run government up until the 11-day war in May by sending suitcases of cash into the territory through Israel. Israel’s new government, which was sworn in the following month, vowed to stop that arrangement.
Under the deal reached with Qatar and Egypt, the wealthy Gulf nation will send fuel to Gaza from Egypt that Hamas can resell in order to help cover payrolls, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivities around the agreement.
An Arab official involved in the talks said Qatar has reached a deal with Egypt to pay it for fuel supplies to Gaza, but is still discussing with Hamas guarantees that the proceeds made off the fuel sales in Gaza “are used for the salaries of civil servants, including teachers and doctors.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with the media.
Hamas civil servants have received irregular payments in lieu of full salaries for years due to a prolonged financial crisis. Even with the Qatari aid, most public workers only receive 55% of their paycheck at best.
Isam Daalis, the top administrator in the Hamas-run government, told reporters Monday that his administration is working to improve the situation and hopes to do so by the next payday.
Qatar is already paying for the fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant and resumed financial aid to some 100,000 needy families in September, using a U.N.-run voucher system. The public salary assistance is the last major tranche of Qatari aid to be restored after the war.
The aid is being given as part of an informal cease-fire brokered by Egypt that is intended to stabilize Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas, an Islamic militant group, seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Israel and Egypt have eased the blockade since the war, with Israel conditioning the easing on continued calm. Israeli officials declined comment on the latest Qatari aid.
The Hamas-run Finance Ministry announced a cash-back program for gas stations that buy large quantities of fuel, an apparent attempt to sell it off quickly in order to pay the salaries.