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Thursday, January 2, 2003
PA officials stealing aid, own documents show

PA officials stealing aid, own documents show
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH The Jeusalem Post 2 January 2003

Palestinian Authority officials and institutions in the Gaza Strip are
involved in stealing basic food supplies and medicine provided by United
Nations Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Arab countries, according to
documents seized by the IDF during a recent raid on the Protective Security
Service headquarters in Gaza City.

The documents show that PA officials have been selling the food and medicine
on the black market since 1996. Food distributed by UNRWA to residents of
refugee camps in the Gaza Strip have made their way to private merchants,
who are selling them on the black market.

The documents also indicate that large supplies of medicine and other
equipment donated by Arab countries as humanitarian aid to the Palestinian
people were being sold at private pharmacies and other markets in the Gaza
Strip.

At one stage, the office of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat sent a complaint to
Rashid Abu Shabak, head of the service in the Gaza Strip, concerning the
misuse of food donated by Israeli Arabs.

In the letter, Fawzi Nimer, head of the Israeli Arab desk in the PA, said a
number of illegal associations operating in Gaza were exploiting the
donations to make a profit.

He asked the service to establish a supervisory body that would follow up on
the case and prevent the thefts.

The IDF has been aware of the phenomenon for a long time, security sources
said Wednesday. They noted that most of the thefts were taking place at the
Rafah border crossing and that PA Minister of Supplies Abu Ali Shahin is
responsible. Shahin is one of the top leaders of Fatah in the Gaza Strip and
one of Arafat's confidants.

The Rafah crossing is controlled by the Preventive Security Service, which
is cooperating with Shahin in stealing humanitarian aid, the sources said,
noting that Shahin is being referred to by many Palestinians as the
"minister of theft."

PA officials first became aware of the thefts in 1996, when some
Palestinians complained that food donated by Arab countries and UNRWA had
found its way to markets in Tel Aviv.

The complaints reached Arafat and his financial adviser, Gen. Fuad Shubaki
(who is in a Jericho prison for his role in the attempt to smuggle the
Karine A weapons ship to Gaza), who found a creative solution for the
problem.

Both Arafat and Shubaki instructed the Preventive Security Service to
confiscate all the food products from private shops and markets and to
transfer them to stores belonging to the Ministry of Supplies.

The food would later be distributed to all the security groups in the Gaza
Strip "for the good of the public interest." Arafat personally approved the
arrangement by adding his signature to a letter issued by Shubaki.

But according to a memo written by Shahin on June 10, the new arrangement
has failed

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