UN to distribute flotilla aid

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 16, 2010 08:08

'Septet' to debate easing blockade; ICRC declare blockade 'illegal'.

2 minute read.



Some of the cargo captured Monday the Gaza protest

FlotillaCargo311. (photo credit: Ron Friedman)

The United Nations will take responsiblity for the aid supplies languishing in Ashdod for two weeks since the flotilla fiasco, the IDF announced Tuesday.

Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the UN Security Council that Israel agreed to release the cargo "on the understanding that the United Nations will determine its appropriate humanitarian use in Gaza."

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The military said the aid, taken from the six-ship Gaza-bound flotilla, would fill 70 trucks.

Up to now, Hamas have refused to accept the aid as a protest against the blockade. Hamas had no comment on the arrangement, under which the UN would take charge of seeing that the aid would be used in authorized humanitarian projects.

IDF originally offered to let the flotilla land at an Israeli port, and then transfer the aid overland to Gaza after inspection, but flotilla organizers refused.

The Security Cabinet is due to meet Wednesday to discuss easing the blockade.

In a typical week, Israel transfers about 500 truckloads of supplies to Gaza, plus 250,000 gallons of fuel for Gaza's electric power station, according to military figures.

UN spokesman Richard Miron said that under the agreement, all the cargo from the flotilla would be sent to Gaza. He could not say whether that included items banned by Israel, including cement, but that if such items do make up part of the goods, "the UN will determine how and where it is used."

Neither side said when the supplies would be taken to Gaza.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has joined a chorus of demands to lift the blockade, saying Monday that the blockade constitutes "collective punishment" in violation of international law. Although the Red Cross has repeatedly condemned the blockade, it was the first time it has explicitly declared it illegal.

The flotilla has boosted Turkey's popularity among Palestinians, according to a poll released Tuesday by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Asked which regional country is most supportive of the Palestinians, 43 percent cited Turkey, with Egypt a distant second at 13 percent. Iran got 6 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia and Syria with 5 percent each, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,270 people and quoted an error margin of 3 percentage points.


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