The Palestinian group Hamas has been accused of stealing hundreds of food parcels and thousands of blankets destined for those in need in the Gaza Strip. A Hamas spokesman denied the accusations but a United Nations aid chief was adamant gunmen forced their way in and seized the urgently needed supplies. Hamas is in dispute with the UN relief agency about how aid should be distributed. It was destined for five hundred families recovering from Israel’s recent two week offensive.
UNWRA spokesman Christopher Gunness said: “At 2.30 yesterday armed men forced their way into our warehouse, one of our warehouses in Gaza, and they took 25 plus blankets and over 400 food parcels. I condemn this in the strongest terms and demand that this be returned.” In the past Hamas has accused the UN of giving aid to local groups with ties to Hamas opponents. About half the population in the Gaza Strip are dependent on UN food aid, since Israel imposed a blockade on the territory 19 months ago. The UN said it has increased its food distribution to cover 900,000 of Gaza’s population of 1.5 million. Humanitarian assistance is vital in the territory, where Hamas claims five thousand homes have been destroyed in the Israeli assault.