The U.S. will cut $100 million in American aid money to Palestinians in Gaza if the territory’s Hamas rulers continue with “unwarranted audits” of local American nonprofit organizations, a state department official said Friday.
The American threat came in response to a growing attempt by Hamas to exert control over the international organizations that support the many impoverished Palestinians among Gaza’s population of 1.5 million people.
This week, Hamas shut down the U.S.-financed International Medical Corps after it refused to submit to a Hamas audit.
The State Department informed Hamas on Thursday that aid worth $100 million would be halted if the International Medical Corps were not allowed to operate freely.
“If they are not allowed to reopen and operate then obviously we are looking at USAID to suspend all operations until the IMC is allowed to reopen,” said a state department official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “These are unwarranted audits and amount to an increase in harassment of humanitarian relief staff.”
The U.S., which considers Hamas a terrorist organization, does not have direct contact with the group.