The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) condemned Wednesday Hamas’ confiscation of aid supplies as the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced a $600 million reconstruction program for Gaza.
UNRWA said Hamas had seized hundreds of food parcels and thousands of blankets destined for Gaza civilians in the wake of Israel's war and demanded their immediate return.
"At 14:30 on 3 February, over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel," it said in a statement.
"This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run ministry of social affairs.
"The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force. The aid was due to be distributed to five hundred families in the area," UNRWA said.
"UNRWA condemns in the strongest terms the confiscation of its aid supplies and has demanded that it is returned immediately."
Meanwhile in Ramallah, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads Abbas's Western-backed government, said the reconstruction project would cover all houses destroyed or damaged during a 22-day Israeli military offensive.
"The amount of the project is $600 million. Most of it will come from (foreign) donors," Fayyad said in a speech, adding that the details would be announced in the coming days.
Egypt is to host an international conference in coordination with Abbas's Palestinian Authority on March 2 on Gaza reconstruction, whose cost has been estimated at $2 billion. Saudi Arabia has said it would donate $1 billion.