Hamas on Thursday condemned a decision by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to close its office in the Gaza Strip, reportedly due to “pressure” exerted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
“The OIC’s decision to close its Gaza office will deprive thousands of poor families – along with those whose homes were destroyed by Israeli aggression – of badly-needed humanitarian aid, delivery of which it had overseen,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.
“It was hoped that the OIC would expand the scope of its operations [in Gaza], not create a new crisis [by closing its office],” he added.
“We call on OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen to resist pressures exerted by any party aimed at tightening the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip,” Barhoum said.
The Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007, continues to reel under a crippling, decade-long embargo imposed by Israel and supported by Egypt.
On Wednesday, Mohamed Hasana, head of the OIC’s Gaza office for humanitarian coordination, announced that the office would be closed and its responsibilities transferred to the OIC’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the PA’s administrative capital.
In a statement, Hasana attributed the decision to “political pressure by the PA within the context of an ongoing pressure campaign against the [Hamas-run] Gaza Strip”.