As is well known, the just-retired head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, made several visits in the past to urge Qatar to send money to Hamas in order to keep the Gazan economy from cratering. He was persuasive; Qatar sent the money, via Israel, in monthly installments to Hamas which, after its leaders skimmed some off the top, as is their practice, and no doubt diverted some of the money to the in-house production of rockets, and expanding the network of terror tunnels, used the rest to keep the Palestinian economy in Gaza at least sputtering along.
Now Qatar has promised $500 million to help pay for the reconstruction effort in Gaza. Qatar has started to deliver that sum to Israel in installments, for transferral to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But Israel has not yet turned the most recent installment over to the Palestinians in Gaza. After its recent war with the terror group, Israel is no longer willing to turn over money from Qatar to Hamas. After all, the Jewish state, though it has faithfully transferred Qatari money to Hamas in the past, now realizes from the recent war that Hamas has not softened; it does not accept the existence of Israel, and scarcely two weeks after the ceasefire was agreed upon, the terror group spoke openly of its intention to prepare for the next round of war. As the deliverer of the monthly money from Qatar to Gaza, Israel faces the same quandary as do donors, including Egypt (which has promised to provide $500 million in reconstruction aid), and the United States, which wants to help civilians in Gaza, but also wants to be assured none of the money will be given to Hamas.
In the recent war with Israel, Hamas was saved by the bell — Biden’s bell, for it was he who pressured Israel to observe a ceasefire before Israel could finish the job of pulverizing the entire network of tunnels. Though soundly defeated, Hamas claimed “victory.” And less than two weeks after the ceasefire was declared, Hamas announced that it was already preparing for the next war. What’s more, Hamas now threatens that unless the latest monthly installment of Qatari money is turned over by Israel, Hamas will let loose incendiary devices on the border with the Jewish state to set Israeli farmland and forests on fire.
This latest threat by Hamas is discussed here: “Report: Hamas threatens to renew arson attacks if Qatari cash withheld,” by Shahar Klaiman, Israel Hayom, June 4, 2021:
As internationally mediated ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas were ongoing, Qatar’s envoy to Gaza has told the Islamist terrorist organization that Israel intends to prevent the monthly influx of Qatari aid money, Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Friday morning.[June 4]
According to the report, because the border crossings between Israel and Gaza remain partially closed, Hamas has delivered a message to Israel via Egyptian and United Nations mediators that the terrorist group intends to escalate matters along the frontier until the aid money is allowed in.
Hamas sources told Al-Akhbar that terrorist groups in Gaza have told foreign mediators that “the continuation of Israel’s provocations toward Gaza and its impoverished residents who need the Qatari aid money means pushing [Hamas] toward escalation and conflict.”
The various terrorist groups in Gaza, the report said, warned they would employ “means of pressure” along the border frontier and emphasized that “the resistance could choose the option of conflict.”
As a reminder, Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, recently warned that if Gaza’s problems were not solved, the terrorist group would “burn everything.” In other words, Hamas has already threatened to renew its campaign of cross-border arson attacks with incendiary balloons.
Gaza’s terrorist groups also informed mediators that they would wait until the end of next week for the Qatari aid money to arrive and that “if it doesn’t happen, we will make a significant decision about the mutual ceasefire.”
If Hamas sends even one incendiary device over the Israeli border, that will provide the IDF with all the justification it needs to renew its too-early ended — thanks to Biden — attacks on the terror tunnels and whatever above-ground high-value targets, including still-extant rocket warehouses, remain to be flattened. Hamas knows that Israeli generals have publicly said they are “ready for the next phase of the war in the south.” And if Hamas strikes first by letting loose those incendiary balloons, videos around the world of burning farmland in Israel will be dramatic proof of the arsonists’ handiwork. Israel had a right to respond, and it had given fair warning of such a response. The upshot would likely be for Israel some few thousand dunams of land set ablaze, while Hamas would suffer the loss of hundreds of its rockets, and many more miles of its tunnel network destroyed. Israel’s defenders will remind the world that Yahya Sinwar threatened that the terrorist group would “burn everything,” and that, having broken the ceasefire, Hamas deserved to receive a crushing blow that would do such damage as to ensure that the next ceasefire is observed for a long time, buying Israel not a few weeks of peace, but a few years.
Israel can put the problem before the world, with a message — it hardly matters whether it comes from Netanyahu or Bennett — in the following vein:
When we decided to call a ceasefire in the war with Hamas, we expected that it would be honored by Hamas for a long time. Now, just a few weeks later, Hamas has broken the ceasefire by sending incendiary balloons into Israel in order, as Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has said, to “burn everything.” They have succeeded in setting aflame farmland and forests, though not been able, as Sinwar wanted, to “burn everything.”
People want to know why we are holding up delivery of Qatar’s monthly payment to Hamas. May I remind you that Qatar was persuaded by us, by Israel, to institute such payments in the first place. We served as middlemen, delivering the money faithfully each month to Hamas. But we expected such funds would help the economic conditions of the people in Gaza, and thereby calm things down. That’s not what happened. Some of the money was taken by Hamas and used to build rockets and lengthen terror tunnels. Clearly, Hamas has to be kept out of the picture. We obviously have no intention of keeping any of Qatar’s money. We want to transfer it. But we can’t hand it over to Hamas, now that it has shown itself to be hellbent on war – the one we just fought, and the one that Hamas assures the world is to come. We simply want to figure out a foolproof mechanism to deliver the money to Gaza, but without having to give any of it to Hamas which, on May 10, proved it had no interest in peace. This is exactly what the United States, what Egypt, what other potential donors to the Palestinians in Gaza are trying to figure out. The people of Gaza, not the terror group Hamas, deserve to have this money reach them. And that’s what we intend to ensure.