Hamas refuses cargo from flotilla ships


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas has refused to accept the aid brought by a Gaza-bound flotilla intercepted by Israel.

Israel said Tuesday that dozens of trucks loaded with cargo from three of the ships arrived at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza and were ready to enter.

But the following day, Hamas Social Affairs Minister Ahmad al-Kurd told reporters that it would accept the aid only if it entered "without anything being stolen from the activists, and without any exceptions."

"This includes the prefabricated homes, the cement, the iron and the electric generators," he said.

Israel has prevented such equipment from entering Gaza, saying it could be used by Hamas to build bunkers and other military installations in the strip. Hamas took over the coastal strip three years ago, and Israel since then has been in armed conflict with the terrorist group.

Inspectors had not found any cement, Israel’s military said, though it had not unloaded all of the boats because the military needs the trucks that are already filled with aid in order to unload the rest.

The cargo was scattered throughout each ship and not packed in an organized fashion, Ynet reported, citing the port’s CEO Shuli Sagis.

X-rays and dogs inspected the goods, which included food and toys.

Meanwhile, Egypt opened its border with Gaza on Tuesday, allowing Palestinians to cross freely. The Rafah crossing will remain open for an unlimited time, Reuters reported. Egypt, like Israel, had closed its border with Gaza when Hamas took over three years ago, opening it only occasionally.

Egypt will allow aid convoys carrying food and medical supplies. Building materials will be required to go through Israel, Reuters reported.

Also Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli Justice Ministry responded to two petitions filed with the nation’s Supreme Court against Israel’s decision to intercept the flotilla and determined that the action was legal.

Meanwhile, Israel is set to release all of the Arab passengers on the flotilla to Jordan, from where they will return to their countries of origin, including Mauritania, Morocco, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria, Ynet reported. The mahority of activists were set to be deported by Wednesday evening.


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