UN aid for Gaza stolen by gunmen

By Yaakov Katz, February 12, 2009

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) this week renewed aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip following several days of a temporary suspension imposed after Hamas violently seized the supplies.

In two separate incidents, Hamas gunmen stormed UN warehouses in the Gaza Strip and commandeered truckloads of supplies including flour, plastic bags and other basic commodities.

“We cannot subjugate our work to the Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza…we need assurances that our work will be unimpeded,” UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha said.

The UN released a statement saying that the suspension would continue “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”.

UNRWA renewed deliveries on Monday after Hamas returned the food and blankets it had stolen from the UN warehouses. UNRWA is responsible for distributing food to 900,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman for the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major Peter Lerner, said that the Hamas seizure of the supplies proved that the group planned to use all deliveries to the Gaza Strip for its own gain and was not looking out for the interests of the Palestinians.

Since the end of last month’s Operation Cast Lead, Israel has been transferring some 200 trucks of supplies into Gaza on a daily basis, Mr Lerner said.

The suspension of deliveries came amid increased tension between UNRWA and Israel over the IDF’s refusal to allow raw materials — such as paper and plastic pellets — into the Gaza Strip.

Last updated: 1:33pm, February 12 2009