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Ban Demands Hamas Return Gaza Aid


U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is demanding that the Palestinian militant group Hamas return humanitarian supplies it seized.

Mr. Ban called for the release Friday, as the world body suspended aid shipments to Gaza because Hamas took supplies meant for civilians twice this week.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, says 10 truckloads of rice and flour delivered into Gaza Thursday were seized by trucks from the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs.

Earlier this week, the United Nations said Hamas took blankets and food meant for hundreds of civilian families in Gaza.

The agency says the suspension will stay in effect until the aid is returned and the Hamas government assures the U.N. body that such thefts will end.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military says Israel has deported 18 people who were aboard a ship seized Thursday while trying to carry humanitarian aid from Lebanon to Gaza.

A military spokesman says most of the people were deported to Syria through the Golan Heights Friday, and a few were put on flights to London.

He says authorities sent a thousand packets of blood plasma from the ship to Gaza, and are doing an inventory of the rest of the cargo before transferring it to the territory.

He says no weapons were found on the vessel.

The organizers said the ship was carrying humanitarian supplies, including medicine, food and toys for the people of Gaza, who are struggling to recover from a devastating three-week Israeli military offensive.

In other news, the Israeli military says Palestinian militants Friday fired at least one rocket into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it landed in a field, causing no injuries or damage.

Both Israel and Hamas have been observing an unwritten cease fire since the end of last month, but there have been sporadic attacks by both sides since then.

Israel waged a three-week offensive in Gaza to try to put an end to rocket attacks on its territory. The fighting killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters

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