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Japan should be 'vigilant' with Palestinian aid, Israel says

TOKYO, October 13 ------ Israel's ambassador to Japan said that his host country should be "vigilant" and look at what Hamas was doing with the aid it has previously extended to Palestinians.

Hamas militants breached the border fence enclosing the Gaza Strip enclave at the weekend, rampaging through towns and villages and killing 1,200 people while taking scores of hostages, the Israeli military has said. Israeli jets have pounded Gazan targets for days in retribution, and the death toll there has risen to 1,200, Palestinian media reported, citing Gaza's health ministry.

"Japan should be vigilant and look at what Hamas is doing with the aid. Is it going really to the population?," Gilad Cohen said at a press conference in Tokyo. He showed an image, widely shared on social media, of what he said was a Israeli kidnapped by Hamas lying bound next to sacks containing aid from Japan to Palestinians. Japan, which calls for a political solution to allow Israel and a future independent Palestinian state to coexist, has provided $2.3 billion of assistance to Palestinians over the last decade, according to a foreign ministry document. Cohen, who held talks with a senior Japanese foreign ministry official on Wednesday, said Israel had offered to look into whether the assistance Japan was providing to Palestinians was being misused.

The European Union backtracked earlier this week on an announcement that it was suspending aid to Palestinians, and later clarified it was reviewing the programmes.


Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Thursday told a regular press conference: "We firmly condemn the terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups." In statements earlier this week, Japanese officials had described Hamas as Palestinian militants but had not used the term "terrorist" or "terrorism". Matsuno said the change in language reflected the "cruel" and "indiscriminate" nature of the attacks. Cohen commended Japan for describing Hamas' acts as "terrorism" and for saying Israel had a right to defend itself. Matsuno also said, however, that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was becoming more serious day by day and Japan was closely monitoring the situation with serious concern. Cohen declined to say whether the issue of Israel's blockade and barrage of air strikes on the Gaza strip, which has been criticized by humanitarian organizations, had arisen in his talks with Japan.



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