Hamas Seeking New Means of Aid

A senior Hamas official said the Islamic militant group is looking for new sources of funding after the international community threatened to cut off aid.

"We are looking for alternative sources and we will not allow ourselves to be blackmailed," Osama Hamdan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Beirut, Lebanon. "We will not accept any conditions from anybody. At the same time, we are ready for dialogue."

Hamas leaders, who have tried to portray a more moderate image since the election, sought to assure the donors that aid would go only to ordinary Palestinians and not be used for attacks.

Analysts say that although most wealthy Persian Gulf nations — and even the West — will not stand by and watch the Palestinians starve, the Arab and Muslim world is unlikely to provide the kind of cash Western nations have given.

Iran is another possible benefactor. Already believed to fund the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic congratulated Hamas on its victory and appeared ready to chip in. Hamas also collects donations from Islamic charities and communities around the world, especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, where people give generously during collection drives after Friday prayers.

"The West doesn't want to give money to Hamas, but it doesn't want the (Palestinian Authority) to collapse either, (knowing) the deepened human misery

[By Mohammed Daraghmeh and Lara Sukhtian, Associated Press]

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