Qatar's USD 90 mn cash for Hamas employees in Gaza
Employees of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip began collecting their salaries for a second month Friday after Qatar pumped more cash into the territory with Israel's blessings.
It came despite a major flare-up between Hamas and Israel that saw Avigdor Lieberman resign as Israel's defence minister after accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being soft on the Islamist group.
Hundreds of employees of Hamas government departments waited in long queues outside banks in the Gaza Strip from the early hours, AFP reporters said.
The Hamas-run finance ministry announced in a statement to local media that the money would be distributed over the next two days, with employees receiving 50 per cent of their salaries.
Doaa, a 36-year-old employee at the women's ministry in Gaza, said she came early in the morning to receive her salary.
"This payment helps us to live our life and meet the needs of our children, even if only a little."
In Qatar's operation, a total of USD 90 million is to be distributed in six monthly instalments of USD 15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas.
The first tranche of USD 15 million was distributed in November, and the second one was brought into Gaza late Thursday by Qatari ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi, Hamas sources said.
The Qatar envoy to Gaza also met Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
The Qatari cash injection is part of an unofficial truce between Hamas and Israel, that was supposed to see an end to months of violent protests along the Gaza-Israel border in exchange for an easing of Israel's crippling blockade of the coastal enclave.
But on November 11, Hamas and Israeli undercover troops had a bloody gun battle following a botched Israeli raid in southern Gaza.
In the following days, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response, with the Israeli army striking Hamas targets in Gaza.
A ceasefire two days later ended the violence, but Lieberman, who was opposed to the Qatari money transfer, resigned.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since pushing out rival faction Fatah in 2007 near civil war.
Fatah civil servants were then instructed not to work, so Hamas has hired around 40,000 additional staff.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
(With inputs from agencies.)