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Some supplies allowed into Gaza as Israel opens crossings, UN reports

26 December 2008 – More than 105 truckloads of food and medical supplies were allowed to enter Gaza today after Israel opened border crossings that had been closed for over a week, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported.

Among the 40 truckloads of supplies allowed in for humanitarian aid agencies were six trucks containing flour and salt for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and three trucks containing medical supplies for the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition, nine trucks brought in supplies of rice and milk for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

While 428,000 litres of industrial gas and nearly 75 tons of cooking gas were allowed in, no petrol or diesel was. As a result, Gaza’s power plant has now been able to turn on one turbine unit. More fuel supplies will be needed soon to keep this turbine running past Sunday morning, according to UNSCO.

Israel, which cites rocket and other attacks by militants from Gaza as the reason for the border closures, had kept the crossings closed for the past nine days, the second longest period they have remained shut since Hamas seized control of the Strip from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly called on Israel to urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians, who are suffering from severe shortages of many basic commodities as a result of supplies not being allowed in.

Just two days ago, he called on Hamas, which recently declared that the ongoing calm between Gaza and southern Israel was now over, to ensure an immediate end to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and urged all parties to work urgently to ease humanitarian conditions in the Strip.

“The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza and southern Israel and the potential for further violence and civilian suffering if calm is not restored,” his spokesperson said in a statement.



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