Israel wants to arrange a voucher system for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip to prevent donations being diverted to the Hamas authorities, an Israeli government minister said yesterday.
Following Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the besieged enclave in May, humanitarian agencies put the latest reconstruction costs for the impoverished Gaza Strip at $500 million, reported Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants a shift in policy, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said.
“The Qatari money for Gaza will not go in as suitcases full of dollars which end up with Hamas, where Hamas in essence takes for itself and its officials a significant part of it,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.
He said Bennett plans “a mechanism where what will go in, in essence, would be food vouchers, or vouchers for humanitarian aid, and not cash that can be taken and used for developing weaponry to be wielded against the State of Israel.”
Qatar has spent $1.4 billion, some of it in cash, on rebuilding the Gaza Strip since 2012.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani last month rejected frequent Israeli claims that money from the Gulf state goes to “terror” groups in Gaza, stressing that Israel knows how the money is transferred.
He reiterated that Qatar is a real and credible partner in achieving peace as it does not believe in military solutions to any conflicts.
Barlev said the proposed aid mechanism should run mainly through the United Nations. He did not rule out continued donations from Qatar, and raised a possibility of European Union assistance.
“Should the mechanism be like this, I have no doubt that Israel would help in the improvement of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” he added.
A World Bank report published earlier this month, entitled Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment, said the Strip suffered up to $380 million in physical damage and $190 million in economic losses during the 11-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, pointing out that “recovery needs have been estimated up to US$485 million during the first 24 months.”