Hamas police in Gaza Strip seized thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for needy residents, a U.N. spokesman said Wednesday. Hamas policemen forcibly broke into an aid warehouse in Gaza City on Tuesday evening and confiscated 3,500 blankets and over 4,000 food parcels, said Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
According to the AP, Gunness said the incident was "absolutely unacceptable." He added police confiscated aid meant for 500 families after U.N. officials refused to voluntarily hand it over to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. Similar U.N. aid packages had already been distributed to 70,000 residents over the past two weeks.
Ahmad Kurd, the Hamas Minister of Social Affairs, did not deny the seizure of the aid Wednesday. He charged the U.N. was giving the aid to local groups with ties to Hamas opponents. "UNRWA did not do what it said it would do, and began distributing its aid to groups that tie their activities to political activism," Kurd noted.
Israeli officials have charged in the past that Hamas routinely confiscates aid meant for needy Gazans, but Gunness said this was the first time Hamas had seized its goods since taking control of the territory in 2007.