Palestinian economic plight could prove explosive

Publication Date26 Aug 2021
AuthorDanny Zaken
The pictures of the suitcases of dollars brought to Gaza three years ago by Qatari emissary Mohammad al-Emadi inflicted major damage on both sides. It was perceived as a step that allowed Israel to provide cash to the financially distressed Gaza Strip, which did what it liked with it - whether humanitarian aid, or promoting means of terror and rocket fire on Israel.

Over recent days, we have witnessed renewed unrest in the Gaza Strip over the arrangements to transfer money. And what is happening is exactly what was happening before May. The terror organizations in Gaza are warning - "Prepare the bomb shelters in Tel Aviv, our missiles are on the way." This was an announcement from Islamic Jihad following the most recent Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Why is the Israeli government again caught up in an escalation of the security situation, less than three months after the last round of fighting, which was meant to bring an extended period of quiet? The main reason is money. But to understand what is different about the current requirements of Hamas, you need to understand the depth of the current situation in the Gaza strip and the problematic nature of the new mechanism for transferring money that Israel planned.

How do you convert cash into controlled money?

The money around which there is the main dispute is meant to be for salaries for Hamas government workers in the Gaza Strip. On a political level, Hamas, and mainly the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahiya Sinwar are taking advantage of the sensitive political situation in Israel, under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to achieve its aims, without needing to go too far in escalating the situation.

When Israel decided to halt the suitcases of dollars, the Israelis claimed was that this was a cash bribe to Hamas, without any controls, in order to maintain temporary quiet. Hamas also interpreted the money as an Israeli bribe to stop "opposition" to the armed struggle against Israel. Bribe or not, the suitcase mechanism allowed money to flow into the Gaza Strip.

Bennett, who has referred on more than one occasion to the suitcases of money, said, "This was something that we inherited and must be stopped for good." In fact the actual suitcases of money stopped going into Gaza in 2019.

One way or another, since the suitcases full of cash were stopped, an alternative mechanism was established for the transfer of $30 million from Qatar to Gaza each month through banks. This method did not prevent money...

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