Humanitarian aid to Gaza
Photo: AFP
Ban: Return the goods
Photo: Roee Idan

UNRWA halts Gaza aid, cites Hamas theft

UN agency suspends operations after Hamas ministry steals 10 truckloads of food from crossing

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced Friday that it was suspending all import of aid into the Gaza Strip because Hamas had seized the supplies for the second time this week.


According to the agency's press release the recent looting involved hundreds of tons of food. "During the night of February fifth 10 truckloads of flour and rice were taken from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza," the statement from spokesman Christopher Gunness said.


He said the food "had been imported from Egypt for collection by UNRWA today," but was "taken away by trucks contracted by the Ministry of Social Affairs." The ministry is run by Hamas.


"UNRWA’s suspension of imports will remain in effect until the aid is returned and the agency is given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts," the statement said.


Gunness added that it was the second such incident in three days. "On Tuesday three thousand five hundred blankets and over four hundred food parcels were taken at gun point from a distribution store in Beach Camp, Gaza. UNRWA has demanded the return of this aid as well," Gunness concluded.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later issued a statement demanding that Hamas release the goods it seized, and refrain from interfering with the distribution of aid in Gaza.


"The Secretary-General reiterates the Security Council’s call, in its resolution 1860, for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical

treatment. All parties must refrain from interfering with, or hampering the provision and distribution of, urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Gaza," the statement said.


Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who manages the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Strip, said UNRWA's decision supported claims Israel's claims against Hamas.


"This decision supports Israel's position, according to which Hamas is making cynical and cruel use of the population in Gaza. Its true face is being revealed, as well as that of its supporters in Iran, who go to great lengths to cause the population to suffer," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 02.06.09, 16:57
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