Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:10 pm (KSA) 17:10 pm (GMT)

91 Gazans die under Israel's medical blockade

A Gaza resident crosses to Egypt last week (File)
A Gaza resident crosses to Egypt last week (File)

Another Palestinian died after Israeli authorities banned him from leaving Gaza for medical treatment, raising the toll from the Gaza blockade to 91 deaths, the Quds Press news agency reported on Saturday.

Medical sources said Mounir Ali, 49, who suffered from a blockage of the bile ducts, will not be the last victim.

Scarcity of medicine and travel bans, a direct result of the Israeli blockade of the Strip, are expected to kill many more with critical and chronic diseases.

Meanwhile, Hamas authorities acknowledged on Saturday that they had seized 16 truckloads of Jordanian aid after Jordan accused the group of confiscating the aid consignment.

The Islamists said they intended to hand it over to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees and wished only to prevent it falling into the hands of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which operates under the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"This sort of aid never reached the Palestinian people in the past but was instead monopolized by a single party," said Ziad al-Zaza, the social affairs minister in the Hamas-led government dismissed by Abbas after the Islamists' seizure of Gaza last June.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since June when it routed secular Fatah forces loyal to Abbas, who has revived peace talks with Israel.

Zaza said that Hamas had secured Jordanian agreement to hand over the supplies to UNRWA even though a Jordanian official earlier said he was "very surprised" by the Islamists' confiscation of the aid consignment.

Minister of State for Information Affairs Nasser Joudeh told the state news agency Petra that Hamas members on Thursday seized 16 trucks carrying emergency supplies into Gaza and diverted the cargo to a warehouse run by the Islamist group.

"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalizes those who really deserve this aid," Joudeh said.

Jordan sends aid to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Red Crescent for distribution to needy Gazans and officials privately say Hamas has been angry with the Palestinian aid group it accuses of ties with Fatah and lack of impartiality.

Amman has in recent years established an aid corridor to Gaza and the West Bank in coordination with Israel.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967 and pulled troops and settlers out in 2005 but still controls its northern and eastern borders, airspace and coastal waters.

Jordan, which has seen an outpouring of popular sympathy with the plight of Gazans, has been alarmed by Israel's blockade of the impoverished area which it fears broadens the popularity of Hamas among a majority of poor Jordanians.

(Some translation from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

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