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Blinken says ‘criminal gangs’ and ‘ordinary civilians’ looting humanitarian aid in Gaza, doesn’t mention Hamas

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said lawlessness, insecurity, and desperation remain hurdles to delivering much-needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza who are caught in the crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants. 

Blinken said these grim factors cause people to charge trucks delivering aid within the Gaza Strip, believing it may be their only chance to get food. 

'You have situations where aid goes in and then people immediately charge at the trucks and you see looting. You see criminals get in the act,' Blinken said. 'And again, just ordinary civilians who, in the absence of sufficient aid, may believe that their only chance to get a piece of bread is to go at the one truck they see coming in.' 

Blinken said food prices and the sense of lawlessness would abate when people Gazans have a 'sustainable, predictable confident supply of assistance going in.' 

Blinken made no mention of Hamas operatives being complicit in the looting, even though officials both in the U.S. and Israel have raised concerns that the terrorist group was siphoning off deliveries meant for civilians. 

Others have pushed back on this claim. Bill Deere of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told NewsNation in December that there was 'no hijacking' of supplies by Hamas. 

'The fact of the matter is … all of this is closely watched by both Israel and the United States from the moment it enters the Rafah border crossing or Kerem Shalom all the way to its delivery to people in need,' Deere said in December. 

David Satterfield, the top U.S. Envoy to Israel, said Israel had not provided sufficient evidence to either him or the Biden administration of 'diversion or theft of assistance.' 

But Satterfield did concede that Hamas does 'shape where and to whom assistance goes.' 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the State Department for comment. 

Blinken’s comments come nearly a week after President Biden announced that the U.S. military would be building a port in Gaza for delivering humanitarian aid. 

The port, which officials have said will be complete within two months, is expected to provide 2 million meals per day, as well as medicine, water, and other critical humanitarian supplies, Blinken said. 

He emphasized that the port is a complement, not a substitute, for other ways of getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza. 

'But this will help close the gap, and it’s part of our all of the above strategy to make sure that we’re doing everything possible by every means possible, to surge support to those who need it be land, by sea, by air,' he said. 

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said more than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7, though Israel has disputed these figures. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in southern Israel during the Hamas-led incursion on Oct. 7 that sparked the war. Around 250 people were abducted. Hamas is believed to still be holding about 100 hostages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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