US Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US State Department announced late Monday that it plans to provide over $71 million in humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip, a large portion of which is earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
"More than 58,000 people are still sheltering in United Nations facilities and basic necessities like food, clean water, and fuel remain in short supply throughout the territory," the State Department said in a statement.
UNRWA has been a subject of controversy in Israel over its perceived sympathy toward Hamas and its actions during Operation Protective Edge.
UNRWA admitted to finding Hamas rockets in their facilities on a number of occasions during the Gaza operation. It said it handed them over to local authorities “answerable to the national unity government.”
The State Department rebuked Israel after the army struck UNRWA facilities it claimed was used by Hamas as cover to launch rockets and mortars.
Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post
reported Hamas used violence and threats against UN personnel in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
During the operation, Hamas was hiding weapons in facilities run by UNRWA, and firing rockets from close proximity to its schools, it was discovered. UNRWA workers were subject to Hamas threats at gun-point during the operation.
In a number of incidents, Hamas terrorists threatened to kill UNRWA personnel if they revealed that the Islamist group was using the UN facilities for purposes of war, to ensure that they would not speak out about Hamas’s activities.
Details have also emerged of the fate of medical supplies and food that were intended to be distributed by UNRWA to residents of Gaza in need of humanitarian aid. On a number of occasions, armed Hamas operatives forcefully confiscated the supplies, taking them for their own use.
In a few cases, both during and after the Gaza war, trucks carrying supplies to UNRWA facilities were intercepted and taken over by Hamas terrorists.