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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Aid to Gaza: Hamas and Israel - What is the difference?

Israelis halt ship carrying aid toward Gaza

From Nada Husseini

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israeli warships halted a ship laden with 50 tons of aid for Gaza about 20 miles off the territory's coast Wednesday, an activist said.

The Lebanese Fraternity was halted at 8:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. ET), said the Lebanese aid coordinator, Maan Bashur.

The cargo included medical equipment, food and toys, he said.

The ship's nine passengers included six Lebanese activists and a Lebanese religious man, a British activist and a Palestinian religious man, he said.

The Israelis warned that any continuation by the Togo-flagged ship of its journey would break international law, Bashur said. Accompanying the Israeli ships were two Israeli helicopters.

In a separate incident, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency condemned the confiscation Tuesday by Palestinian police of more than 3,500 blankets and 400 food parcels from a distribution center in Gaza and demanded its return.

"This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs," the agency said in a written statement. "The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force."

The aid was to have been distributed to 500 area families, it said.



Hamas seizes UN food aid and blankets in Gaza

Updated at: 1140 PST, Thursday, February 05, 2009
JERUSALEM: Hamas police in Gaza broke into a warehouse full of United Nations humanitarian supplies and seized thousands of blankets and food packages, a UN spokesman said, a rare public clash between the international agency that feeds much of the territory and the group that rules it.

The incident highlighted difficulties facing donors seeking to bypass Hamas while helping Gazans survive and rebuild after Israel's punishing military operation.

Hamas policemen stormed into an aid warehouse in Gaza City and confiscated 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels ready for distribution to 500 families, said United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesman Christopher Gunness.

Police seized the aid after UNRWA officials refused to voluntarily hand it over to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs, he said. Similar aid packages were distributed to 70,000 residents over the past two weeks, Gunness said.

In New York, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said UNRWA "condemned in the strongest terms" the confiscation of its aid supplies.



VIDEO: Hamas accused of UN aid snatch
Thu Feb 5, 2009 2:29am GMT

Feb. 4 - The United Nations is demanding the return of food parcels and blankets it says were seized by Hamas police from a warehouse.

UN officials say aid they planned to distribute to 500 Palestinian families was taken after they refused to hand over the supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. Paul Chapman reports.


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