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Israel-Palestine: Qatar announces $500m for Gaza reconstruction

Pledge comes as Hamas vows not to touch 'a single cent' of international aid intended for rebuilding of besieged enclave
Diplomatic efforts are underway to solidify the fragile Egypt-brokered truce that halted the fighting, with plans to rebuild the Gaza Strip (AFP)

Qatar has said it will provide $500m for Gaza's reconstruction after the besieged Palestinian enclave was battered by Israeli air strikes during 11 days of hostilities.

"The state of Qatar announces $500m in support for the reconstruction of Gaza," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani tweeted on Wednesday. 

The funds aim to help Gazans "face the life challenges posed by the recent Israeli attacks, and to contribute to the reconstruction of service facilities in Gaza... in addition to the homes that were destroyed," Qatar's official QNA news agency said.

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The pledge comes nearly a week after a ceasefire ended the violence.

According to the latest official information from Palestinian and Israeli sources, at least 292 people were killed between 7 and 21 May, including at least 71 children and 45 women. 

The vast majority were Palestinian: Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed at least 248 Palestinians, while 29 were killed in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

In Israel, 12 people were reported killed by rockets launched from Gaza by Hamas, which governs the enclave, among them two children.

The hostilities began amid Israeli authorities’ crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem, first in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, then at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hamas pledge

Diplomatic efforts are underway to solidify the fragile Egypt-brokered truce that halted the fighting, with plans to rebuild the Gaza Strip where Israeli air strikes also damaged infrastructure and levelled buildings.

Cairo last week also promised $500m towards reconstruction for Gaza, while the United States has also pledged to help.

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Hamas vowed on Wednesday not to touch "a single cent" of the international aid intended for the rebuilding of Gaza, with the head of the group's political wing, Yahya Sinwar, promising "transparent and impartial" distribution of aid.

"We welcome any international or Arab effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip," Sinwar told a news conference in Gaza City.

"I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts," he said. "We have never taken a cent in the past."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that all aid would be "administered in a way that benefits the Palestinian people - not Hamas," which Washington considers a terrorist group.

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