Israel defense ministry wants Gaza aid to bypass Hamas

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An Israeli defense official said Monday aid to rebuild the conflict-battered Gaza Strip must bypass its rulers Hamas, and instead flow through an international “mechanism” to reach people directly.

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Israel has enforced a blockade on impoverished Gaza since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the crowded enclave.

Israel argues the measures are necessary to isolate Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by most Western countries.

The official -- who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter -- said the aid must be managed to rehabilitate Gaza “without posing a threat to Israel”.

The official, who spoke a day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the region, said aid deliveries would have to involve the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which has worked with Hamas in the past to deliver donations to Gaza.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement that part of Blinken’s trip would include working on “the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas”.

Israel pounded Gaza for 11 days with air strikes and artillery, while Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets from the enclave, before a ceasefire last Friday.

Israeli strikes ravaged Gaza’s infrastructure, as well as made at least 6,000 people homeless, the UN’s humanitarian agency says.

Up to 800,000 are without access to clean water in the coastal enclave.

Egypt has pledged $500 million to support rebuilding, while the UN said it has released $18.5 million for humanitarian aid in Gaza.

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