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Hamas Efforts, Assisted By UNRWA, To Seize Control Of Humanitarian Aid Entering Gaza Strip

Masked gunman guards an aid truck bound for the northern Gaza Strip (Image: Telegram channel of Hamas' Civil Defense Force:, March 18, 2024)

Hamas has recently been attempting to seize control of the delivery and distribution of  humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, out of recognition that such control is critical to maintaining its rule and its grip on the populace.[1] These efforts were spurred by reports that Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are in contact with armed clans in Gaza with the aim of establishing a local Palestinian force to replace the Hamas administration, which will distribute the humanitarian aid to the civilian population.[2]

Several reports reveal that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is helping Hamas in its efforts to seize control of the humanitarian aid, and coordinates the arrangements to deliver, secure and distribute the aid directly with the Hamas apparatuses. For instance, it was reported that a convoy of 12 aid trucks entered the northern Gaza Strip on March 17, 2024, guarded by armed operatives subordinate to Hamas, following a preparatory coordination meeting between representatives of the Hamas police and of UNRWA that took place at Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital on March 16. In remarks to Reuters, a senior UN official openly admitted  that his organization is coordinating with the Hamas police. The official, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that the UN coordinates with the "Blue Police" (i.e., Hamas police), albeit "in a discreet manner," because Israel views this force as part of the Hamas infrastructure.[3] Several Arab media outlets, among them the Rai Al-Youm online daily, likewise reported about the coordination between UNRWA and Hamas and the direct involvement of Hamas in securing the aid convoys and distributing the aid.[4] Furthermore, in a video posted on the Telegram channel of Hamas' Civil Defense Force, a member of this force stated that his men secured the March 17 convoy.[5]

At the same time, Hamas is evidently attempting to conceal its direct involvement in, and control of, the delivery of the aid, presumably in order to deceive Israeli and international elements that are likely to oppose this. It is doing so by acting through proxies, such as "the Popular Defense Committees", whose members explicitly note that they are subordinate to the Hamas interior ministry, and "Palestinian clans" which openly assert that they will cooperate with Hamas.[6]


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