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Qatar distributes Gaza funds after flare-up

By AFP - May 14,2019 - Last updated at May 14,2019

Palestinian children play with scrap metal in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Khan Younis on Monday (AFP photo)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Qatar began distributing millions of dollars in aid in the Gaza Strip on Monday in a fresh bid to restore calm after a flare-up with Israel, a Qatari official said.

Israel and Gaza exchanged strikes and rockets on May 4 and 5, resulting in the death of at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

A new agreement was brokered which reportedly includes tens of millions of Qatari aid to Gaza as part of a package to ease Israel's crippling blockade of the strip.

The Gulf state, a rare Hamas ally in the region, has been providing millions in aid to the strip monthly since November.

Qatari envoy Mohammed Al Emadi entered Gaza early Monday, the Qatari source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"This morning, the distribution of a cash aid of 100 dollars per poor family began," he said, adding it was destined for 108,000 families.

Hundreds of Palestinians waited at post offices in Gaza City to receive the $100 cash payments, an AFP photographer said.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and analysts fear another round remains likely.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned Monday of the risk of fresh conflict.

"The risk of war remains imminent and today we have perhaps the last chance to consolidate the agreements that have been reached," he told a press conference in Gaza.

"The next escalation is going to be probably the last."

He said he had seen welcome steps by Israel in the wake of the latest uptick, such as extending the Gaza fishing zone and reopening border crossings.

The UN was preparing a series of projects to improve the lives of people in Gaza, he said.

Around 80 per cent of Palestinians in impoverished Gaza are reliant on international aid, according to the United Nations.

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