UN asks Israel to open Gaza crossings

Ban: Israeli response to rockets "increases civilian suffering;" Oxfam: "World must break blockade."

karni 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
karni 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that Israel's response to the incessant firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, in which crossings to the area were closed, was "unacceptable." In a statement released by the UN, Ban voiced his concern "that food and other life saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people." He called to immediately end the "measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza" and "to allow urgently, the steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian assistance." Ban indicated his desire to see Israel resume the facilitation of UNRWA's activities, as well as the access of other humanitarian organizations to Gaza. The UN leader also condemned the attacks by the Palestinians, who fired 16 rockets into Israel on Friday. Four of the rockets were Grad-type Katyushas. The European Union also called on Israel to reopen its border crossings with the Gaza Strip. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she was worried that "fuel and basic humanitarian assistance" is not reaching the Palestinians. Ferrero-Waldner said that the crossings should be re-opened so food, fuel and medicine can begin moving into Gaza once more. Israel has closed the crossings to Gaza for deliveries of fuel and other essentials but has allowed humanitarian cases through. In related news, Oxfam called on the state to end "the blockade" of the Strip. "World leaders must step up and exercise all their political might to break the blockade of Gaza," a statement released by the humanitarian organization said. "As a matter of humanitarian imperative, Israeli leaders must resume supplies into Gaza without further delay. If Israelis and Palestinians alike don't exert every effort now to maintain the truce which has held since last June, the result could be catastrophic for civilians both in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns," said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs. "For nearly a year and a half unimpeded access to fuel, food, medicines and essential goods has been routinely denied. Failure of the international community to act decisively will only exacerbate human suffering and could further endanger chances for peace," he continued.