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Arab States Failed to Send Billions in Pledged Donations for Gaza Reconstruction

Arab and Muslim countries have only delivered a small fraction of what they pledged to give for the reconstruction of Gaza after the 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel, the World Bank stated Monday.

Countries pledged to donate a combined $3.5 billion over three years at a conference in Cairo in October 2014. But as of the end of March, only $1.41 billion out of the scheduled $2.71 billion has yet been delivered.

The most generous pledged donor was Qatar, which promised $1 billion in 2014. “While the Palestinian people need financial support, they need more political support from the international community,” said Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, then the Qatari foreign minister, at the time. But since making its pledge, Qatar only gave $152 million—around 15 percent of what it promised. The Associated Press reported:

Saudi Arabia, the No. 2 donor, has delivered just over 10 percent of the $500 million it pledged, while the United Arab Emirates has sent just 15 percent of the $200 million it promised and Kuwait has delivered none of the $200 million it pledged. Turkey, one of Hamas’ closest allies, has delivered about one-third of the $200 million it pledged.

In Ankara, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said that Turkish aid is expected to reach up to $250 million by the 2017 target date “and therefore to exceed the pledge that was made.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. Officials from the Gulf Arab countries were not immediately available for comment.

In contrast, the United States (the fourth-most-generous donor) has delivered all of its promised $277 million. The European Union (#3) sent around three-quarters of its $348 million pledge, and individual European countries have generally sent most or all of their promised aid.

“Unfortunately, there are broken promises and betrayal from the donor parties in the reconstruction file,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the AP. “We call on all parties to honor their pledges because the situation in Gaza is catastrophic.” He warned that continued harsh conditions in Gaza could lead to more violence.

Abu Zuhri previously made news in 2014 when he was attacked and beaten by Gazans who blamed Hamas for starting the war, which led to the deaths of nearly 2,000 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 10,000 homes.

Hamas is believed to spend more than $140 million every year on building tunnels to smuggle goods and attack Israelis. Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff reported last year that Hamas prioritizes building tunnels instead of houses.