UNRWA: Gaza official did not flee

(JTA) — UNRWA  denied a report that its top official fled the Gaza Strip after Hamas threatened him for not coordinating disbursement of funds.

Israel Radio on Friday quoted a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the principal organization administering relief to Palestinian refugees, as strenuously denying that John Ging left Gaza for two weeks because of threats.

The report had appeared in Israel’s daily Ma’ariv, quoting an Israeli Army security report expressing concern about Hamas efforts to control the disbursement of aid in Gaza.

The army document was also reported in the Jerusalem Post. In it, officials express concern that Hamas has insinuated itself into all levels of aid distribution. "Hamas uses violence against international organizations, including UNRWA, if they do not cooperate," the Post quoted a senior defense official as saying. The Post quoted a newspaper ad that said that aid officials not heeding Hamas orders will be forced to leave Gaza.

Officials also told the Post that the U.N. organizations have no choice in the matter and that Israel would tolerate the cooperation as long as it remained "technical."

Hamas officials denied the report, saying it was an "excuse" for Israel to continue its strictures on goods entering Gaza.

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