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US, Hamas Cut Deal on Gaza Aid

Hamas says it reached a deal with the US allowing almost $100 million in US aid dollars to keep flowing into Gaza.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/13/2011, 9:37 PM

Dollars for Hamas
Dollars for Hamas
Israel news photo montage

Hamas announced Saturday it had reached a compromise with the United States allowing USAID to continue funding charities in Gaza, AFP reported.

On Friday, a US official told Reuters the US had suspended operations of the aid organizations it funds in the Gaza Strip because the Hamas had demanded confidential information about their work.

"USAID-funded partner organizations operating in Gaza are forced by Hamas's actions to suspend their assistance work. (They) were put on hold effective August 12," an official, based in the region, said.

He added that "through a series of measures (Hamas) has imposed over the past months, it has created an environment which jeopardizes the ability of nongovernmental organizations to provide assistance to Gaza's most vulnerable residents."

The official, who declined to be named, said Hamas had demanded access to files and records of NGOs, which would reveal financial and administrative information, details of staff members and information on beneficiaries.

He said that Hamas had shut down the International Medical Corps (IMC) an NGO and USAID partner organization, after its officials objected to "unwarranted audits".

"We are disappointed that Hamas has once again chosen to put its political agenda ahead of the welfare of the Palestinian people," the official said, calling on the group "to cease its interference ... so that we can resume our humanitarian and development activities in Gaza."

Hamas administration official Taher al-Nono said an understanding had been reached which would allow independent auditing teams to inspect the files of NGOs, but he added that Hamas had the right to monitor their work in the territory.

USAID supplies roughly 600,000 Gazans -- about a third of the population of the coastal strip -- with some $98 million worth of aid focused on health, education, construction and infrastructure.

US officials declined to comment on why the United States is providing funds for infrastructure and essential services in Hamas-run Gaza when the US lists Hamas as a terror organization.