t r u t h o u t | 11.20
Tuesday 18 November 2008
by: Cherrie Heywood, Inter Press Service
Ramallah, West Bank -
Steve Gutkin, the AP bureau chief in Jerusalem and head of Israel's Foreign Press Association, said that he personally "knows of no foreign journalist that has been allowed into
Gutkin said that "while
AP has relied on reports from two of its journalists who were able to enter
A delegation of European Union parliamentarians was also prevented from entering
During talks held with Hamas, the EU parliamentarians were able to get a historic commitment from the Islamic organisation to recognise
EU commissioner for external relations and European neighbourhood policy, Bentita Ferrero-Waldner, has expressed strong reservations. "I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all
Karen AbuZayd, head of the UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) which cares for Palestinian refugees, added that it was unusual for Israel not to let basic food and medicines in. "This has alarmed us more than usual because it's never been quite so long and so bad, and there has never been so much negative response on what we need," she said.
The tit-for-tat violence began on Nov. 4 when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) launched a cross-border raid into
More than 20 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids. Two Israelis were lightly injured in the subsequent rocket attacks.
The timing of Israel's breach of the ceasefire is curious in that hundreds of these smuggling tunnels have existed ever since Hamas took over the strip in June last year. They have been used to smuggle everyday necessities as well as arms because the territory is hermetically sealed by
John Ging, director of UNRWA in Gaza, who has lived there for the past three years, questioned the alleged security reasoning behind the closure. Since the ceasefire went into place this summer, Ging said, fewer supplies have passed through the crossing than in the beginning of 2006, when the western Negev in
At that time the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is supported by
"Last week we were unable to feed 60,000 of
Seventy percent of
"The Israelis were only allowing 2.2 to 2.5 million litres of fuel in per week prior to the closure, which was the minimum required to operate the power plant. The plant has a capacity for 20 million litres and this would last two months under normal circumstances and tide over emergency periods. But this has all run out," Ging said.
Kan'an Ubeid, deputy chief of the Palestinian Energy Authority, said at a press conference in
Gazans also ran out of cooking gas while Gaza's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) was forced to pump tonnes of untreated sewage into the ocean due to fuel shortages and the lack of spare parts for equipment in need of repairs and new parts.
Much of this will flow back into
Meanwhile, the emergency and ambulance services director-general, Mu'awiyya Hassanein, says
Sammy Hassan, a spokesman from
"We are down to 30,000 litres of fuel left to run the larger generator which is used when electricity is cut. Under the current circumstances with no electricity we require 10,000 litres per day," Hassan told IPS.
Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East programme, said that
Following international pressure and protests from the EU,
Oxfam's spokesman in Jerusalem Michael Bailey, who coordinates a number of humanitarian projects in Gaza, said this response was entirely inadequate.
"Thirty trucks of aid after a closure of 10 days is insufficient. What we need is a complete revision of the embargo on
"Both Israel and Gaza's other neighbours need to put the human rights and essential needs of Gazans above all considerations if there is to be a way out of this quagmire."
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