Gaza powers Hamas by shipping fuel by sea

By Lee Hooper, AFP

Gaza’s rulers Hamas are giving 300 Palestinians an average monthly salary by ferrying fuel to the territory by sea from a tiny Gulf Arab nation, an aid worker said Thursday.

Hamas has accepted a monthly $5,000 (4,400 euros) donation from the Gulf kingdom of Qatar, which is providing fuel at very cheap prices to the territory controlled by the Islamist movement.

“Hamas engineers are giving the fuel to the Palestinian Red Crescent, who then share it with other humanitarian organisations that run relief missions in Gaza,” Nick de Bois, head of the UK-based Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FRIDAY), told AFP.

De Bois, who works in Gaza, said there had been a surge in the number of ships carrying fuel to the territory in recent weeks, with four larger vessels arriving on Wednesday.

On Friday, another five were expected.

“Currently eight ships have turned to deliver fuel,” said FRIDAY’s director general Thorbjoern Jagland.

“This has become the normal practice. About 70 percent of Gaza needs to get fuel.”

Friday said the fuel is also delivered to Palestinian schools.

Palestinian media said the fuel came from a charity run by Qatar in exile called Ramna and served as a temporary source of fuel after Israel had cut off fuel shipments.

Hamas have ruled Gaza since 2007 when they routed forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

When Israel’s navy forced a cargo ship to turn back in the Mediterranean in December, it said it did so because it was bringing fuel to Gaza.

In April, Israel extended fuel supplies to Gaza in January.

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