5 Feb 2009

Hamas police accused of stealing aid

4:09 pm on 5 February 2009

The United Nations has accused Hamas of seizing aid from one of its Gaza warehouses destined for Palestinian refugee families.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency said the policemen seized more than 400 food parcels and 3,500 blankets it had planned to distribute to 500 families in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Welfare Minister Ahmed al-Kurd denied the charge and accused the agency, which cares for much of Gaza's population of 1.5 million, of lacking "neutrality and transparency".

Meanwhile, the European Union complained that Israel was obstructing the entry of needed goods, deepening doubts about post-war reconstruction.

EU leaders said Israel's resistance to letting in building supplies like steel and cement that have potential military uses is an obstacle to getting aid shipments to Gaza.

A truce was declared by Israel and Hamas on 18 January, following a 22-day Israeli offensive in which 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed.