UN Truck Convoy 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Hamas condemned the UN agency for Palestinian refugees for stopping
food distribution after rioters stormed the organization's Gaza
The decision by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, to suspend food
distribution was “overbown and unjust,” Hamas spokesperson Sammi
abu-Zuhari was quoted as saying Friday by Israel Radio. “Palestinian
refugees have a right to stage non-violent protests,” he added.
On Thursday, dozens of Gazans broke into UNRWA’s offices, according
to Reuters and UNRWA’s own account of the event. The rioters were angry
at UNRWA for stopping a monthly cash stipend for poor families. Israel
Radio reported the stipends were suspended because of budget cuts. UNRWA
announced the suspension of food distribution the same day.
"What happened today was completely unacceptable: The situation could
very easily have resulted in serious injuries to UNRWA staff and to the
demonstrators. This escalation, apparently pre-planned, was unwarranted
and unprecedented," Robert Turner, the head of the agency's Gaza
operations, said in a statement.
"All relief and distribution centers will consequently remain closed
until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that UNRWA operations
can continue unhindered," Turner added.
Some 800,000 Palestinians recieve UNRWA assistance.