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Hamas steals medicine and food sent by donors

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook  |
Hamas has been stealing medicine and food sent by international donors, distributing these supplies among its members and selling the rest for profit. This accusation, appearing in numerous eyewitness reports in Palestinian Authority newspapers since the end of the Gaza War, has now been corroborated by UNRWA.
Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida have been reporting that armed Hamas men have comandeered trucks delivering food to UNRWA and have shot at the truck drivers.

 Hamas has also refused to allow charities to distribute any of the supplies. An article in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida describes how Hamas militias took control of two charity organizations in Jabaliya and in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, and made them sign an agreement not to distribute any aid or "carry out social or humanitarian actions."

The following are multiple reports of Hamas's continuing theft of donor aid.
"UNWRA reported yesterday that Hamas police confiscated supplies of humanitarian aid from one of the distribution points under its control in Gaza. Two days ago, they report, more than 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated by Hamas police officials."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 5, 2009]

"Yesterday the Hamas militias took control of two charity organizations in Jabaliya and in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Sources said that the Hamas militias took control over the Association for the Disabled in Jabaliya, and  the "Our Home" association in Beit Lahiya. They forced the people in charge of the two [charity] organizations to sign that they obligate themselves not to distribute any aid or carry out social or humanitarian actions."
 [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 28, 2009]

"[Hamas] took control by armed force of the aid trucks and of the goods that were sent to the private sector. The supplies were distributed between the [Hamas] party members and afterwards the remainder was put up for sale at exorbitant prices... People's stories range from stories of murder of innocent people in cold blood to the unloading of bags of flour to the houses of Hamas activists while their neighbors were left starving. When they asked [for some of the flour] they were offered to buy at prices which they could not afford to pay."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 22, 2009]

"Hamas kidnaps Fatah members while they distribute aid ...  Armed Hamas members kidnapped Fatah movement members yesterday while they were distributing aid to citizens... they also attacked a senior policeman wildly... and refused to transfer him to hospital for treatment after the attack."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 28, 2009]

Headline: "Minister for Social Affairs: The Ministry concentrates on rescue and rehabilitation activities while Hamas confiscates the aid and sells it"

"[Minister for Social Affairs] Al-Habbash clarified that the [Palestinian] Authority ... used to send [aid] through the UN institutions and the World Food Programs or directly. He emphasized that Hamas has taken control over this aid and has prevented its reaching the citizens... 'When the [Israeli] aggression ended, the Hamas members came out and began to carry out robberies of the aid convoys and take the aid. On the 19th and 20th of this month they took over 63 trucks loaded with food, which were expected to arrive at the [UNRWA] relief agencies...

"They [Hamas] take control over everything that falls into their hands, they present it at the market and sell it ...

"He added that Hamas disseminated among the grocers and the food distributors, [orders] preventing them from selling [large] quantities of food, unless it is with permission of Hamas, even if is a person wants to buy quantities [of food] in order to distribute it as charity among people. He directed attention to the fact that the aid that reaches Hamas, it distributes among its [own] people and the rest it sells."   
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 29, 2009]

Headline: "Al-Habbash: Aid entering Gaza is no longer safe after [Hamas] has taken 63 trucks of food and medicine"

"[Palestinian] Minister for Social Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, said: 'During the last three days, armed [activists] who belong to the Hamas movement have taken control of 63 trucks delivering aid consisting of food and medicine, which were on their way to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), after shooting at the drivers...
'Unfortunately the way the aid enters into the Gaza Strip has not been safe during the last three days ... Hamas has executed 19 civilians, and has shot another 63 civilians in the legs ...'

"Regarding Hamas's taking the aid he said: 'The movement sells part of the aid on the open market and to private pharmacies, and the rest it distributes among its members, that is the message of hundreds of complaints from Gaza citizens received every day at the Ministry for Social Affairs' ... and he said that he has evidence from drivers who were shot before the contents of their trucks were requisitioned by force..."
[Al-Ayyam, Jan. 22, 2009]