February 9, 2008 / 2:25 PM / in 11 years

Jordan says Hamas seizes aid covoy sent to Gaza

AMMAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Jordan said on Saturday the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has confiscated a convoy of humanitarian aid sent to people living under an Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip.

Minister of State for Information Affairs Nasser Joudeh told the state news agency Petra that Hamas members on Thursday seized 16 trucks carrying emergency supplies into Gaza and diverted the cargo to a warehouse run by the Islamist group.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since June when it routed secular Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has revived peace talks with Israel.

"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalises those who really deserve this aid," Joudeh said.

Jordan sends aid to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Red Crescent for distribution to needy Gazans and officials privately say Hamas has been angry with the Palestinian aid group it accuses of ties with Fatah and lack of impartiality.

Amman has in recent years established an aid corridor to Gaza and the West Bank in coordination with Israel.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967 and pulled troops and settlers out in 2005 but still controls its northern and eastern borders, airspace and coastal waters.

Jordan, which has seen an outpouring of popular sympathy with the plight of Gazans, has been alarmed by Israel’s blockade of the impoverished area which it fears broadens the popularity of Hamas among a majority of poor Jordanians.

(Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Reuters Messaging; suleiman.al-khalidi.reuters.com@reuters.net; Amman Newsroom +9626 4623776)

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