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JERUSALEM: Israel allowed some basic supplies into Gaza yesterday amid mounting international concern over a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Thirty truckloads of humanitarian and other basic goods were delivered to the Gaza Strip, an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The Israeli authorities had previously opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing for only one day since a Nov. 4 surge in violence.

Israeli authorities yesterday also opened the Karni crossing conveyor belt to deliver wheat and grain as well as the Nahal Oz terminal for the delivery of fuel to Gaza’s sole power plant, spokesman Peter Lerner said.

Any decision to open the crossings again today would be subject “to the security situation,” Lerner said.

The closure of the crossings had led to rising international concern over the plight of residents in the overcrowded sliver of land whose economy has been crippled by a blockade Israel imposed after Hamas seized power in June 2007.

With stocks running dangerously low, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had expressed fears it would have to suspend its food distribution for the second time since Israel completely sealed off the territory at the beginning of the month.

The agency welcomed the decision to allow supplies in, but said far more is needed.

“It is most emphatically not enough,” said spokesman Chris Gunness. “This drip-drip approach will not allow UNRWA to function.”

Israel had been expected to ease the blockade when a truce went into effect on June 19, but has cited continuing rocket and mortar fire from Gaza in refusing to do so. Hamas accuses Israel of failing to keep to its side of the bargain.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday renewed his support for an extension of the six-month truce.

“In the months preceding the entry into force of the truce, we were recording as many as 500 mortar or rocket attacks a month in southern Israel against just a dozen in the months since the truce,” he told Parliament.

Barak rejected calls by some of his Cabinet colleagues for a major ground offensive into Gaza.

Meanwhile, international journalists based in Israel appealed to the country’s Supreme Court yesterday to overturn a government decision barring foreign correspondents from entering the Gaza Strip.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) filed the court petition after the government failed to heed a letter signed by heads of the world’s largest news organizations calling for the ban to be lifted.

The FPA court petition charged that the media ban constitutes “a grave and mortal blow against freedom of the press and other basic rights and gives the unpleasant feeling that the State of Israel has something to hide.” It requested an urgent hearing.

Source >  Arab News | nov 25

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