Palestinians force Qatari ambassador to leave Gaza conference

Palestinians say Qatari aid meant to address shortages is not reaching the people

Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi speaks during a press confrence with UN Special Coordinator for the United Nations for the peace process in the Middle East, in Gaza City, on July 11, 2017.
The Gaza Strip may already be "unlivable", warned Robert Piper, the UN's top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories, after a decade of Hamas rule and a crippling Israeli blockade. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS
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Palestinians in Gaza City threw shoes at Qatari ambassador Mohammed Al Emadi, forcing him to leave a press conference at a hospital, where he detailed a new emergency fund to aid the blockaded territory.

Qatar maintains contacts with the militant group Hamas and co-ordinates projects in Hamas-held Gaza. On Monday, Mr Al Emadi said that his country will give $9 million (Dh33m) to reportedly address fuel and medicine shortages.

According to the pan-Arab daily, Asharq Al Awsat, one of the hospital workers asked Mr Al Emadi about their salaries, which staff — who had been on strike for 10 days — say they have not received in months.

One man, who spoke to Al Arabiya news channel, said that the aid was not reaching the people.

“The ambassador said there’s $9 million. Where are they? They said $1 million is for the unfortunate and poor, where are they,” he said.

Gaza has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas wrested control of the territory from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007. A dispute over money and revenue collections has stalled a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, which Egypt brokered in October.

Mr Al Emadi on Monday said the issue of salaries was not related to Qatar.

"There are contracts between the employees and the companies with whom they work and there are contracts with the ministry of health and it should pay salaries. This has nothing to do with the Qatari grant," he was quoted as saying by Asharq Al Awsat.

The ambassador’s response angered the hospital cleaning workers, who began throwing shoes at him and tearing up pictures of the Qatari emir.

They are demanding payment from the Hamas-run healthy ministry. Hamas and Mr Abbas' Palestinian Authority are locked in a dispute over who is responsible for paying them.

Sources told the daily that the Mr Al Emadi was not directly hit but was forced to leave.

Hamas officials later apologised to the Qatari ambassador, the report added.