JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas police confiscated food aid and blankets meant for needy Gaza residents from a U.N. warehouse.
The aid supplies, which were to be distributed to 500 families, were taken by force Tuesday afternoon after staff members of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency refused to turn them over to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. The police broke into the warehouse to hijack the aid, which included over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels, according to a news release issued Wednesday from UNRWA.
UNRWA condemned the confiscation and demanded that the aid supplies be returned immediately.
"UNRWA has a strict system of monitoring aid delivery and ensuring that its assistance reaches only the intended beneficiaries," the release said. "Our officials were on the ground overseeing the delivery of our aid and taking all possible steps to avoid its diversion."
An UNRWA official told The Associated Press that this is the first time Hamas has diverted U.N. aid, but Israeli officials have consistently claimed that Hamas steals supplies meant for needy Palestinians.