Critics of an arrangement whereby the Qatari government provides funds to the cash-strapped rulers of the Gaza Strip have slammed Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz for allowing the first such transaction to go through on his watch. During three election cycles, Gantz was highly critical of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for allowing the transfers to take place, likening them to extortion payments levied by crime families against businesses and individuals hoping to avoid violence. The latest payment, about $50 million, was reported on Monday by a Lebanese newspaper. The cash helps Hamas, which has run the Gaza Strip since 2007, to pay salaries. It is also distributed in installments of $100 to needy families via postal banks. The parents of an Israeli soldier whose remains have been held by Hamas since fighting in 2014, when Gantz was military chief of staff, blasted him for going back on his word. “Benny Gantz is a huge disappointment for us. There’s an unconscionable gap between his remarks and declarations, and his actions,” Leah and Simha Goldin said in response to this week’s cash transfer, the first since Gantz took over as defense minister. Their officer son was killed in the Gaza Strip on the last day of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, with his remains falling into the hands of Hamas. They have been calling for an end to the Qatari payments until their son’s body is returned.
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