Hamas-linked website warns Palestinians not to work with Israel'

Credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA, March 11 (Reuters) - A Hamas-linked website on Monday warned Palestinian individuals or groups against co-operating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys amid the five-month-old war in the Gaza Strip.

Those who did would be treated as collaborators and be handled with an iron fist, the Hamas Al-Majd security website said, quoting a security official in Palestinian militant forces.

The warning came in response to Israeli media reports that Israel was considering arming some Palestinian individuals or clans in Gaza to provide security protection for aid convoys into the besieged enclave as part of wider planning for humanitarian supplies after the fighting ends.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office has declined to comment on the report, which came a week after dozens of Palestinians were killed in an incident in which crowds surrounded a convoy of aid trucks entering northern Gaza and troops opened fire.

"The occupation's attempt to communicate with the leaders and clans of some families to operate within the Gaza Strip is considered direct collaboration with the occupation and is a betrayal of the nation that we will not tolerate," the website said, quoting the official.

"The occupation's (Israel) efforts to establish bodies to manage Gaza are a 'failed conspiracy' that will not materialize."

With civil order increasingly strained in Hamas-run Gaza and police refusing to provide security to convoys because of the risk of being targeted by Israeli forces, the issue of secure distribution of desperately needed food and other supplies has become a major problem.

Gaza has several large traditional family clans, affiliated with political factions including Hamas and Fatah, the rival group that dominates the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. Some of those clans are believed to be well-armed and there has been no indication that they would consider working with Israel.

Responding to plans by the European Union and the United States to create a sea corridor to send aid ships to the enclave, senior Hamas official Basem Naim said it was a "positive" step but the world should have rather acted to end the war.

"Ensuring all the needs of the population in the Gaza Strip are met is not a favour from anyone; it is a guaranteed right under international humanitarian law even during times of war," Naim told Reuters.

"If the US administration is serious about solving the humanitarian crisis, the easiest and shortest path is to stop using veto power to allow a ceasefire to be reached, and to compel Israel to open all land crossings and allow entry of all required aid," Naim said.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

((nidal.almughrab@thomsonreuters.com; 00970599401958; Reuters Messaging: nidal.almughrabi.reuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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