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Middle East
Hamas to pay victims of Gaza war
Palestinian group promises money to families suffering after Israeli offensive.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2009 09:36 GMT
Hamas says more than 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Israel's Gaza offensive [AFP]

Hamas is set to hand out money to Gazans afflicted by Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The territory's government was due to start giving out the money, expected to total about $45m, on Sunday - a day after a Hamas committee was established to oversee relief efforts.

Ahmed al-Kurd, the Hamas-appointed minister of social affairs, also heads the National High Committee for Relief which will distribute the money to those who lost family members or their homes.

"It will be the only body to oversee and supervise the rescue. We will be in contact with all other bodies, whether local, national or international, to organise the relief," al-Kurd said.

Re-building Gaza

Al-Kurd did not say how Hamas had raised the funds for the Strip, which has been under a strict blockade since the group took control of Gaza in June 2007.

"We are a government that is in charge of all of Gaza," he said. "The ministries have budgets, they have funds, just like in the rest of the countries of the world."

Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for Gaza's de facto government, said that Hamas would grant €1,000 ($1,300) for the family of each "martyr" killed in the three-week-long conflict earlier in the month and €500 ($650) to for each one of those injured.

He also said that Hamas would pay €4,000 ($5,200) for each family whose house has been completely demolished.

He said that more than 20,000 Palestinian houses have been either completely demolished or partially damaged during the war.

More than 1,330 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli offensive, which Israel says was aimed at stemming rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians were also killed.

'Death by blockade'

Both sides declared unilateral ceasefires last Sunday and Israel completed its withdrawal from the territory on Wednesday.

Al-Kurd would not specify the role the relief committee would play in rebuilding efforts in the battered territory, but demanded the lifting of Israel's blockade of the Strip and the reopening of Gaza's border crossings.

"From now on we will not accept a slow death by blockade. We sacrificed in this war ... and we did not sacrifice our youth to return to square one."

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said that it should lead the reconstruction efforts, which it said would require about $1.9bn in aid.

Abbas's Fatah group were pushed from Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took control of the Strip.

Source:
Agencies
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