Hamas policemen seized a convoy of humanitarian aid bound for the Palestinian Red Crescent on Thursday evening, the second convoy it has taken from the aid agency, aid employees said.
Policemen from Hamas halted 14 trucks filled with food and medicine at a checkpoint after it crossed an Israeli checkpoint into Gaza on Thursday, said employees of the Palestinian Red Crescent, who declined to be named, fearing reprisals from ruling group Hamas. A Hamas official said the aid was seized because the organization was distributing aid to former Fatah fighters and not to impoverished Palestinians.
Employees from the Red Crescent said they were meant to distribute the aid to some 8,000 needy Gaza residents from lists of people the organization keeps. The aid came from the organization's regional headquarters in Jordan, an employee said.
An employee said policemen halted the aid convoy and checked the trucks' contents. "They then insisted to drive one car in front us and another behind us, and led us to police compound in Gaza City," he said by telephone from the police station where he was held. Later, the food aid was unloaded in the warehouses of the Hamas Ministry of Social Affairs, and two trucks of medicine were taken to a nearby Hamas-run hospital, he said.
The employee said that it was the second time Hamas policemen seized aid meant for the Red Crescent. Last month the group seized the aid from warehouses. Ziad Zaza, Hamas' Social Affairs Minister said his staff had tried to discuss the issue of aid recipients with the Palestinian Red Crescent, but had received no response. He did not deny that police took the aid.