Israel says Hamas steals Gaza humanitarian aid, accuses UNRWA of cover-up

UN claims Israel imposes severe restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, while Israel says the UN agency turns a blind eye and helps to cover up the issue; IDF releases recording of a Gazan resident saying the UNRWA is controlled by the terror group
Amid international focus on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, senior UN officials have recently accused Israel of imposing stringent restrictions on aid flowing to Palestinian refugees in the region. They responded subtly to Israeli claims of Hamas diverting aid, cautioning against a "lack of foundation" in such information.
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Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), asserted that "official Israeli sources hinted or directly imposed responsibility on UNRWA for gaps in the transfer of aid to Gaza." These statements further fueled misinformation in Israeli media and social networks, creating a stream of distorted and baseless information.
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הנציב הכללי של סוכנות הסעד אונר"א פיליפ לזאריני
הנציב הכללי של סוכנות הסעד אונר"א פיליפ לזאריני
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees
(Photo: Said Khatib/AFP)
Lazzarini's comments followed Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy, who accused UNRWA of "failing miserably" in its aid mechanism, linking it to the alleged snatching of aid by Hamas. He cited evidence, including a recording released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, indicating a conversation between a military officer and a Gaza resident accusing Hamas of effectively controlling UNRWA.
Levy emphasized the dire situation, claiming humanitarian aid workers were complicit in theft, accusing Hamas of prioritizing aid delivery to its operatives over starving refugees. The resident interviewed alleged that those managing UNRWA are themselves Hamas activists, a claim whose credibility remains uncertain.
Israeli accusations stem from the relatively slow pace of aid flowing into Gaza. According to the UN, on Friday, 81 trucks carrying food and medicine entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing in Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel allowed the direct entry of trucks into Gaza through Kerem Shalom only two weeks ago, under American pressure and intending to increase the overall number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip.
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 משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל
 משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל
Aid trucks enter the Gaza Strip
(Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld /Getty Images)
Israel claims that one of the reasons for the slow pace of aid is the UN's inefficient handling of border crossings. Even before the decision to open the Kerem Shalom crossing two weeks ago, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories stated that the UN's aid system "must improve."
Contrarily, the UN argues against Israel's stricter limitations, even after the opening of Kerem Shalom. UNRWA's chief Lazzarini accused Israel of causing "persistent delays" at both Kerem Shalom and the Rafah crossing, limiting humanitarian access to Gaza by disrupting communication networks and the internet. According to Lazzarini, Israel also restricts aid transfer within the Gaza Strip, from the southern to the northern part. He urged all parties involved to maintain a safe environment for humanitarian deliveries, emphasizing the need to avoid blame games and misinformation during this critical time.
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