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Daily Israel Report

Hamas Hijacks Humanitarian Aid

Hamas is hijacking international aid for Gaza's poor and is using it to fund its own support system, according to the Israeli government.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/21/2009, 4:06 PM

Israel News Photo-Flash 90

Hamas is hijacking some of the 6,000 tons of international humanitarian aid that have entered Gaza this week for the poor, and instead is using the goods to fund its own support system, the Israeli government charged.

Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead over three weeks ago, Israel has supervised the delivery of nearly 50,000 tons into Gaza but has no supervision over the trucks after the food and medicines are transferred to Arab trucks at Gaza crossings.

Armed terrorists have stolen several trucks at gunpoint, forcing one Jordanian company to suspend operations, charged the government agency that supervises coordination of the aid.

Israel has warned the international community that reconstruction programs for Gaza must not pass through Hamas hands in order to prevent giving the terrorist organization legitimacy and the opportunity to use aid for its own purposes.

Reports of Hamas confiscating aid, using it for its members and selling the rest of it on the black market surfaced nearly two weeks ago, after Israel decided halt fire for three hours a day to allow trucks to enter Gaza.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness said that the U.N. agency is investigating the reports that the hijacked Jordanian trucks were destined for UNRWA. "We are not aware of any aid being diverted," he stated but added that officials still are investigating the reports of hijacking.

Gunness added that between a third and a half of the humanitarian aid is for UNRWA. Egypt and the private sector operate most of the other trucks, and a small amount goes to various other U.N. agencies. The UNRWA aid is shipped from the port in Ashdod via Israeli trucks to the Kerem Shalom crossing, where agency officials deliver the trucks to UNRWA warehouses.

Hamas and its rival Fatah faction have accused each other of stealing the aid, with Hamas charging that Fatah is diverting aid to Arabs in Judea and Samaria.