Qatar’s ambassador to Palestine, Dr Mohammed Al Emadi, yesterday signed a $1.7 million contract for the construction of three new projects in Gaza, the National reported.
Of the total, $630,000 was allocated to the first phase of building the external walls and foundations of a controversial project that Qatar shelved two years ago when it prompted public outrage.
The only problem was that the foundation stone for the project was on a landmark that has great sentimental value among Palestinians – Al Ansar Military Compound, which housed the Gaza office of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
In 2001, Israel bombed the site’s helipad while Arafat was besieged in Ramallah. But years after Arafat’s death in 2004, the site was renovated, as was the helicopter he used to travel around the region. The site has been turned into training venue for the Palestinian security forces and a national monument.
Amid denials from the local Hamas authorities of selling the land to Doha, the initial Qatari announcement about the project stirred enormous resentment and drew criticism from across the political spectrum. Several leading Palestinian political figures asked Qatar to stop the scheme.