Israeli PM Netanyahu blocks Qatari aid funds for Gaza after border flare-up

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked millions in Qatari aid destined for the Gaza Strip in response to renewed border hostilities, risking increased tensions with Hamas during Israel’s election campaign. Weeks of relative calm in the Gaza Strip ended on Tuesday when Israeli soldiers were fired on along the border with the enclave in two separate incidents. Under the agreement, Israel has permitted Gulf state Qatar, a rare Hamas ally, to bring in aid to the strip, including $15 million a month to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants and provide aid to impoverished residents. The January payment had been expected to enter Gaza on Wednesday or Thursday but Netanyahu has decided to block it after the border-flare up, AFP reports, citing an Israeli official.