No supplies getting through as Gaza crossings remain closed – UN

Food aid being distributed at UNRWA's food centre, Beach Camp, Gaza Strip

22 December 2008 – No humanitarian aid, fuel or other commodities were able to get into Gaza today, as the border crossings into the area remained closed, the United Nations reported.

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) also reported that Gaza’s power plant is still not operating owing to lack of fuel.

In addition, due to the shortage of wheat grain, all Gaza mills have been shut down, and more than half of Gaza’s 47 bread bakeries have had to close.

At the same time, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that shortages of drugs and pharmaceuticals in Gaza are continuing to rise, with some 105 essential drugs now out of stock.

Israel has kept the border crossings into Gaza closed for almost two months now, citing rocket and other attacks by militants as the reason.

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, while at the same time condemning the rocket attacks.

Mr. Ban has also called for a continuation of the Egyptian-brokered calm between Gaza and southern Israel, that began in June and which Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007 and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, has reportedly announced is now over.

Meanwhile, the World Bank stated that the Palestinian economy has the potential for dramatic growth, even in the midst of the current global recession. But new restrictions are hampering export-oriented growth.

A new report released by the Bank today finds that exporting through Israel is becoming more difficult and that the current alternative through Jordan is severely limited.

“For Palestinian exporters to effectively compete on the international market they must be allowed to use modern door-to-door logistical systems. Such systems are in use at sensitive security borders worldwide but must be adapted to meet Israel’s legitimate security concerns,” the Bank said in a news release.

An improved international trade route through Jordan would make the West Bank economy much more competitive for exports, particularly to the Persian Gulf, it added.


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