Israel Warns Gaza Reconstruction Aid Might Help Hamas

Accuses UN Agencies of Setting Up "Joint Committees" With Hamas-Linked Unions

by Jason Ditz, July 24, 2009

Six months after the end of the Israeli invasion, the Gaza Strip remains in ruins, with the billions of dollars pledged for its reconstruction largely unused in the face of a restrictive Israeli blockade. Today, the Israeli Defense Ministry is distributing a document warning that it thinks Hamas would probably end up with a measure of control over the funds.

The document also accuses the United Nations aid agencies of setting up “joint committees” with unions it claims have ties to Hamas. While they have contact with the Hamas-led government of the Gaza Strip, the UNRWA insists aid is distributed purely on the basis of need and not according to Hamas dictates.

The Israeli government has maintained a blockade since the end of its invasion, barring the importation of steel, cement and glass, claiming they all might have military uses for the Hamas government, and forcing Gazans to try to rebuild their destroyed cities with mud.

Earlier this month the Israeli Defense Ministry recommended the relaxation of certain restrictions, allowing clothing and chicken into the strip for the first time in months and allowing a somewhat increased supply of canned soup. This was presented as a “goodwill gesture,” but the restrictions on reconstruction materials remain in place despite international criticism.

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