UNITED NATIONS, June 15 (Reuters) - The United Nations has agreed to deliver to Gaza cargo aboard three aid ships seized by Israel on May 31 and has won the consent of Israel and the cargo's Turkish owners to do so, a UN envoy said on Tuesday.
Israel's navy took control of a six-ship convoy trying to run the Jewish state's blockade of Gaza and forced it to dock in Israeli ports. Nine people were killed aboard one vessel, the Turkish-registered Mavi Mara, provoking an international outcry. Israel said its commandos acted in self-defense.
UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry told the Security Council the United Nations was ready to take responsibility for delivery of the aid cargo on an exceptional basis.
The world body has obtained the consent of the cargo owners of the three Turkish-registered vessels to take possession of and responsibility for the entire cargo and ensure its timely distribution in Gaza for humanitarian purposes as determined by the United Nations, Serry said.
The government of Israel has agreed to release the entire cargo to the United Nations in Gaza, again on the understanding that it is for the United Nations to determine its appropriate humanitarian use in Gaza, he added.
Serry said he had reason to believe that the de facto authorities in Gaza -- a reference to the Hamas militant group that controls the Palestinian territory -- would allow the United Nations to determine where the aid went.
Israel has blockaded the territory since Hamas took it over three years ago, allowing in only what it considers essential goods.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees runs an extensive aid and education operation in Gaza.
Serry, who was making a regular monthly report to the Security Council on the Middle East, said the United Nations would begin the distribution effort as soon as possible.