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Qatari aid to Gaza 'prevents another war', says ambassador

Gaza faces its 'toughest crisis' yet with UNRWA launching an $800m emergency appeal [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2018

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A Qatari diplomat has rejected claims that Doha aids Palestinian group Hamas, saying humanitarian assistance provided to Gaza is evidence of the exact opposite.
The aid given by Qatar to Gaza helps avoid another war, a Qatari diplomat said on Thursday, adding that it was further evidence of Doha's distance from the Palestinian group Hamas.

"Gaza is on the verge of collapsing," Ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi told Reuters in an interview in Jerusalem, after meeting Israel's regional cooperation minister and security officials.

"This is what we are preventing: a war, the next war. We don't want the next war," he said, describing the $800 million in Qatari assistance to Gaza since the most recent all-out conflict.

The Israeli onslaught on Gaza in the summer of 2014, a 51-day brutal campaign, killed more than 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, according to the United Nations.

"The work that we are doing is keeping peace for both nations," added al-Emadi, chairman of the Qatari Committee For The Reconstruction of Gaza. 

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with gas-rich Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups, including Islamist group Hamas.

Saudi Arabia then issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatar vehemently denies the charges and says the bloc's move is aimed at curtailing its sovereignty, and pushed back with an outreach programme to the US.

When we tell them what is there on the ground, what we are doing there, it is good work

"If we are helping Hamas, do you think the Israelis [would] allow us to go inside and come out?" Emadi asked. "It's impossible. They know we are not helping Hamas."

Doha responded to US and Israeli concerns by no longer hosting Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas' deputy leader, added Emadi. "Every penny" given to Gaza is monitored to ensure it is spent on humanitarian needs, he said.

"We feed Washington the correct information about what we are doing, and these people... right away, they are with us."

Qatar's image has improved, he said, "because when we tell them what is there on the ground, what we are doing there, it is good work".

Emadi said he has visited Israel 20 times since 2014.

Gaza has been devastated by three Israeli wars on the embattled territory since 2008, with little reconstruction funded or permitted amid an Israeli blockade on all imports that could potentially have "military purposes".

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