Qatar announces $150 million aid to Gaza

Doha (AFP) –


Qatar on Wednesday pledged $150 million in aid for Gaza, a day after fuel purchased by the Gulf state arrived at the only power station in the Hamas-run enclave.

A statement from Doha's foreign ministry said the money had been pledged via the Qatar Development Fund, the government body responsible for distributing the country's foreign aid.

"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 ministry said.

It added that the United Nations Development Programme would oversee distribution of the aid.

The UN estimated the value of Qatar's earlier donation of fuel at $60 million.

The world body says Israel's 11-year blockade of the enclave, ruled by Islamist movement Hamas, has resulted in a "catastrophic" humanitarian situation.

Gaza's two million residents endure dire living conditions including a shortage of safe drinking water and regular power cuts, partly due to a lack of fuel for the strip's power station.

For months Gaza residents have been receiving an average of just four hours of mains electricity a day.

Gaza residents have staged regular protests since March along the territory's border with Israel, sparking deadly gunfire from Israeli troops and fears of an all-out conflict between Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars since 2008.

Hamas has been in control of Gaza since 2007.

Much of the international community considers the group a terrorist organisation and Hamas has rejected calls to recognise Israel.

Qatar, which has poured billions into Gaza, is home to former prominent members of Hamas including ex-leader Khaled Meshaal.

Those ties came under intense scrutiny when a diplomatic crisis broke out in June 2017, pitting Qatar against a Saudi-led bloc that accuses the gas-rich emirate of supporting "extremists" and being too close to Iran.

Qatar denies the charges.