Gaza: Qatar is
launching a massive rebuilding project in the Hamas-controlled
Gaza Strip without coordinating with the Palestinian National
Authority (PNA) and Israel, a Qatari official said Sunday.
In addition to Hamas, which wrested control of Gaza in 2007 from
President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, Qatar also arranges with
Egypt to deliver materials needed for the reconstruction through
its territories, said Mohammed Al Ammadi, head of the Qatari
Committee for Rebuilding the Gaza Strip, reported Xinhua.
"We are implementing a pure financial and technical Qatari
activity for the service of the Palestinian citizens, so we do not
need to arrange with other parties outside the Gaza Strip except
Egypt," Al Ammadi told Xinhua at his office, nestled in the
headquarters of the Qatari diplomatic mission here, which was
closed following Hamas' takeover of Gaza.
The starting of the Qatari project would be announced next week,
but Al Ammadi did not confirm nor deny that Qatar's Emir Sheikh
Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani will attend the cornerstone laying
But a source in the Qatari Committee said that serious
preparations are being taken between the committee, Hamas
authorities and Egypt to receive the Qatari Emir and his wife. The
source said this visit "is nearly confirmed" to take place on
No high-ranking Arab or Western official has set foot in Gaza and
met any member of Hamas since 2007. For the US and most of
European countries, Hamas is a terrorist organization for refusing
to recognize Israel.
Feeling grateful to Qatar, Hamas filled Gaza streets with Qatari
flags and images for its Emir along banners thanking the Persian
Gulf state that went ahead with the rebuilding plan.
In March 2009, international donors pledged up to $5 billion to
rebuild Gaza following Israel's three-week military offensive, in
which as many as 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands of
houses and infrastructure installments were destroyed. However,
the donors wanted the money to go through the PNA, which is not
functioning in Gaza.
The Qatari initiative comes at odds with the international
community's view that the reconstruction of Gaza should be done
via the West Bank-based PNA, which has criticized the Qatari
enterprise in Gaza, considering it a boost for Hamas.
But Al Ammadi stressed that the Qatari projects in Gaza "signal no
political indications." Since the projects will serve the
Palestinian people, the PNA "should be happy since it is
responsible for all Palestinians", he said.
So far, Qatar has allocated $254 million for the first phase of
the project, which is designated to be completed in two and a half
years. Half of this amount would be used for the rehabilitation
and paving of three major roads connecting the northern and
southern ends of the coastal enclave, according to Al Ammadi.
The Qatari donation is also allocated for housing, agricultural
and health projects. They include a residential complex of 2,000
housing projects and a prosthetics centre, Al Ammadi said.