Hamas says won't touch 'single cent' of aid to rebuild Gaza
The Palestinian group Hamas vowed on Wednesday not to touch "a single cent" of international aid to rebuild Gaza following a deadly 11-day Israeli assault which ravaged the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The head of the group's political wing, Yahya Sinwar, promised "transparent and impartial" distribution of aid.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since a 2007 conflict with the rival Palestinian group Fatah.
Diplomatic efforts are underway to solidify a fragile Egypt-brokered truce that halted the Israeli assault, with plans to rebuild the Gaza Strip where Israeli air strikes damaged infrastructure and levelled buildings.
"We welcome any international or Arab effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip," Sinwar told a news conference in Gaza City.
"I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts," he said. "We have never taken a cent in the past."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that all aid would be "administered in a way that benefits the Palestinian people - not Hamas", which Washington considers a terrorist group.
Israel - which has enforced a crippling land and maritime siege on the Palestinian enclave since 2007 - accuses the group of diverting international aid to military ends.
An Israeli defence ministry official said all funds to Gaza would have to flow through an international "mechanism" to reach people directly.
Israel began its deadly assault on Gaza on May 10, after Hamas launched rockets in response to an attack by Israeli security forces on Palestinian worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which left hundreds of people injured.
Israeli security forces have also wounded dozens of Palestinians who protested the potential expulsion of residents of the Sheikh Jarrah area from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.
Between May 10 and May 21, Israeli air strikes and artillery fire killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children and some fighters, authorities in Gaza say.
Rocket and other fire from Gaza killed 12 people in Israel.