Wednesday, February 04, 2009 
20:31  Mecca time, 17:31  GMT     
News Middle East  
UN says Hamas seized Gaza aid   
 Unrwa says it is giving food aid to 
900,000 Palestinians in Gaza [AFP]    A
United Nations aid agency has accused Hamas of seizing hundreds of food
parcels and thousands of blankets destined for civilians in the Gaza
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency(Unrwa) said the aid supplies had been confiscated from a
distribution store by policemen. "The
police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by
force. The aid was due to be distributed to five hundred families in
the area." 
"This took place after Unrwa staff had earlier refused to hand over
the aid supplies to the Hamas-run ministry of social affairs," the
statement said.
Ahmed al-Kurd, the Hamas government's social affairs minister, confirmed that 
the aid had been seized.
He said it should be distributed to a wider section of the Gaza
population and not only those who hold refugee status and benefit from
Unrwa assistance.
'Discriminatory distinction'
The Hamas government "is the main party responsible for the
distribution and supervision of this aid in an equitable manner.  We
reject any discriminatory distinction", he said.

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Al-Kurd said Unrwa had given some of its aid to non-governmental
organisations  with a political agenda, alleging the agency lacked
"neutrality and transparency". 
Humanitarian assistance is essential in the Gaza Strip, where more
than 4,000 homes were destroyed and 20,000 buildings damaged during
Israel's 22-day assault.
Unrwa says it is giving food assistance to 900,000 people, out of Gaza's 
1.5-million population.
Last week, John Ging, Unrwa's Gaza director, said the agency had
expanded its aid programme to include employees of the Palestinian
Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and
leader of the Fatah movement. 
Fatah and Hamas are political rivals.
Ging said they needed the aid because Israel was preventing the
transfer of cash to the Gaza Strip to pay Palestinian Authority workers.
The overseeing of aid and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is a
source of friction between Hamas and Fatah, which lost control of the
territory to Hamas in 2007.
Unrwa was set up in 1948 to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees.
It defines Palestinian refugees as those who lost their homes and
their means of livelihood as the result of the Arab-Israeli conflict
that broke out immediately after the creation of the state of Israel in
1948, as well as their descendents.  
 Source: Agencies   
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