A senior State Department official admitted Monday “there are no guarantees” that millions of dollars being sent by the United States to help Palestinians would not end up in the coffers of the Hamas terror group.
“We’re going to be working in partnership with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to kind of channel aid there in a manner that does its best to go to the people of Gaza,” the anonymous official said during a briefing previewing Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the Middle East this week. “I’m also sure that the Government of Egypt will have some role in that.
“As we’ve seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees,” the official added, “but we’re going to do everything that we can to ensure that this assistance reaches the people who need it the most.”
In a statement announcing Blinken’s trip, President Biden noted that the top diplomat would discuss “the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas.”
Israel has accused Hamas of using aid meant to reduce humanitarian needs and bolster the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure for military purposes. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas has made millions of dollars from tariffs and other taxes levied on aid and also has appropriated food and construction materials to feed its militants and expand its network of “terror tunnels” into Israel.
Last month, the State Department announced that it intended to deliver nearly $75 million in economic and development aid to the Palestinian territories, as well as $15 million in humanitarian assistance. The Department also announced it would send $150 million to Palestinians through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and another $10 million for “peacebuilding programs” through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Blinken, who departed for the region Monday, is scheduled to visit Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan on a whirlwind four-day tour. His visit follows a ceasefire that halted the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas last week after 11 days of fighting.