United Nations Relief and Works Agency For Palestine Refugees in The Near East - Problems With Hamas

Problems With Hamas

On 4 February 2009, UNRWA halted aid shipments into the Gaza Strip after it accused Hamas of breaking into a UN warehouse and stealing tonnes of blankets and food which had been earmarked for needy families. A few days later, the UN resumed aid after the missing supplies had been returned.

On 5 August 2009, the IDF accused Hamas of stealing three ambulances that had just been transferred through Israel to the UNRWA. The UNRWA spokesman denied the claim. A week later, Hamas confirmed it confiscated the ambulances due to bureaucratic reasons. A UNRWA spokesman also confirmed this but soon retracted this admission and denied the incident, even publicizing a photo it claimed was of one its officials with the ambulances.

On 23 May 2010, a group of 30 armed masked men set fire to the construction site of an UNRWA summer camp in Gaza City, destroying it. The arsonists left a letter addressed to UNRWA head John Ging, threatening his life. Four bullets were attached to the letter. Hamas condemned the arson but tried to minimize its importance. Additionally, Hamas advised UNRWA to reexamine its curriculum to ensure its suitability for Palestinian society, due to the mixing of genders at the camps. The previous year Hamas denounced UNRWA and Ging, accusing them of using their summer camps to corrupt the morals of Palestinian youth. Hamas has its own network of summer camps and the two organizations are regarded to be vying for influence with Gazan youth. In September 2011 it was reported that, under pressure from Hamas, UNRWA has made all its summer camps single-sex. At the same time it was reported that UNRWA has suspended the introduction of Holocaust studies in its schools.

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