Qatari official: Without Israel's help, nothing happens in Gaza

Senior Qatari official acknowledges cooperation with Israel is needed in order to improve the situation in Gaza.

Elad Benari ,

Aid trucks enter Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing (file)
Aid trucks enter Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing (file)
Flash 90

A senior Qatari official acknowledged on Thursday that cooperation with Israel is needed in order to improve the situation in Gaza.

"When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis. Without the help of Israel, nothing happens," Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar's Gaza reconstruction committee, told The Associated Press.

"This is part of our effort, working very closely with Israel, very closely with everyone in Gaza, to prevent any more escalation and war. We want peace in the region, and to help the people," he added.

Under a system set up after Israel's 2014 counterrorism Operation Protective Edge, reconstruction materials are delivered to Gaza through an Israeli-controlled border crossing. The Palestinian Authority coordinates the projects, Israeli security officials approve the entry of materials and the UN monitors the deliveries to make sure they are not diverted by militants.

Over the years, Al-Emadi said he has developed a cordial relationship with the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

"You can say it's good," he told AP, stressing the motives were pragmatic. "To help the people of Gaza, this is our only target and aim," he said.

His comments on Israel are interesting, given that Qatar and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations.

In 2015, Qatar’s Foreign Minister ruled out the possibility that his country would cooperate with Israel, accusing the Jewish state of “offending 1.5 billion Muslims” and of being provocative regarding the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He previously blasted Israeli “occupation” when discussing the crises in the Middle East, claiming that “the Middle East is suffering from the failures of the peace process due to the Israeli occupation” of Palestinian land.

Al-Emadi's comments on Thursday came as Qatar pledged $9 million for aid to Gaza on Thursday, days after UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned that the Hamas-controlled enclave is on the verge of "full collapse".

According to Mladenov, a key to saving Gaza from disaster was restoring the government of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to power there, a decade after it was forced out by Hamas in a bloody coup.

Abbas's Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last October, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December 1.

That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and had later reportedly hit “obstacles”.

Al-Emadi on Thursday urged the international community to send aid to the people of Gaza, saying the dire conditions in the territory could potentially spill over into renewed violence.