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UN accuses Hamas of raiding warehouse -

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Reporter: Barbara Miller

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The United Nations agency which provides aid to Palestinian refugees in Gaza says
Hamas gunmen have seized hundreds of food parcels and blankets from a warehouse.

The United Nations has condemned the action and called on Hamas to return the goods. Hamas rejects
the allegation.

The spat is likely to increase concerns among international donors about whether aid intended for
Gaza's residents is ending up in the wrong hands.

Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: Three-quarters of a million people in Gaza rely on aid packages distributed by the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency and two weeks after the end of Israel's assault on the
territory, workers at the UNRWA warehouse are busier than ever.

(Sounds from warehouse)

But the UN says that work has been compromised by Hamas gunmen. Christopher Gunness is the UNRWA
spokesman.

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS: Armed men came. They forced their way into our warehouse. They were armed. We
were not. And they took away 3,500 blankets, over 400 food parcels. We condemn it and we want this
aid back.

BARBARA MILLER: At a news conference Hamas denied that it had forcibly removed aid but the Hamas
Minister of Social Affairs in Gaza expressed displeasure at the way the agency was operating,
appearing to accuse it of supporting Hamas opponents.

(Ahmed al-Kurd speaking)

Ahmed al-Kurd said it was unacceptable that the agency had caved in to political pressure.

Whatever did or didn't happen at the UNRWA warehouse, the dispute suggests tensions are mounting
between Hamas and the UN agency and that can only be bad news for those dependent on UN aid in
Gaza.

Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, is viewed by many countries as a terrorist
organisation and some donors are wary of pledging aid to Gaza over fears they may inadvertently
support the group. Until now the UN has always insisted the aid is reaching the civilians it's
intended for. That argument will now be harder to make.

Donors would be more reassured if Hamas and its rival Palestinian faction Fatah were to form a
unity government through which aid could potentially be channelled. Positive noises are being made
by both sides. Dr Faisal Abu Shahla, a Fatah Member of Parliament in Gaza City, says the Israeli
offensive brought Palestinians closer together.

FAISAL ABU SHAHLA: They were all together suffering. There was no discrimination between Hamas or
Fatah. So here it was a message from the Palestinian that we want unity.

BARBARA MILLER: Ahmed Yousef is a Hamas politician.

AHMED YOUSEF: We understand if we don't have a national reconciliation developing Gaza or
rebuilding Gaza is going to be something very difficult to achieve.

BARBARA MILLER: But it's not long before the old accusations start coming.

Ahmed Yousef:

AHMED YOUSEF: There are people who are inside Fatah who serving the Zionist and American agenda,
who don't need to see the Palestinians united and they actually trying to weaken the social fabric
of the Palestinians.

BARBARA MILLER: Egyptian efforts to bring about agreement between Hamas and Fatah are continuing
but with the animosity between the two sides showing no sign of easing that may prove just as tough
a job as negotiating a lasting ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Barbara Miller.