A senior United Nations official in the Middle East today expressed deep concern at reports that Hamas has broken into the offices of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Gaza Strip this week, confiscated materials and equipment, and forced the offices to shut down.
Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem that reports indicated Hamas had broken into NGO offices in both Gaza City and Rafah.
“This targeting of NGOs, including UN partner organizations, is unacceptable, violating accepted norms of a free society and harming the Palestinian people,” he said.
“The de facto authorities must cease such repressive steps and allow the re-opening of these civil society institutions without delay.”
Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, took control of Gaza in 2007 after it ousted the Fatah movement. About 1.5 million Palestinians live in the area, which has been blockaded by Israel for the past three years.