Report: U.S. threatens to halt humanitarian aid to Gaza

Haaretz – August 12, 2011

The United States threatened Thursday to halt humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, after Hamas demanded to audit the books of U.S.-financed NGOs in Gaza, the New York Times reported.

According to the report, the U.S. State Department said it would stop delivering to Gaza some $100 million in aid for health care, agriculture, and water infrastructure if Hamas does not stop insisting on auditing the books of U.S. charities in the Gaza Strip.

The threat comes after Hamas officials took over the offices of the International Medical Corps on Sunday after the NGO refused to be audited by Hamas.

Hamas has been trying to tighten their grip on the NGOs in Gaza, first demanding they register with the central government, pay a fee and submit financial reports, the New York Times reported, but when they demanded in June that the groups must allow officials to audit their books, the charities began objecting.

Moreover, the report said that while Hamas did not explain the reason for its demand to audit the charities’ books, there are fears that money could be diverted for political or intelligence-gathering purposes.

The United States forbids American organizations from having direct contact with Hamas, who it labels as a terrorist group, and therefore on-site audits by Hamas officials would lead to the suspension of aid, the NYT quoted the U.S. State Department as saying.

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