'Israel restricting Gaza aid deliveries'

EU official says average of 120 trucks of supplies being delivered to Gazans not sufficient.

gaza aid 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza aid 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza are being restricted, making it difficult to help those in need, a European Union official said Friday. Only about 120 trucks are able to supply Gaza on an average day, compared to about 500 a day in 2007, said John Clancy, spokesman for EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel. Clancy said the commission has asked Israel to allow aid workers to be fast-tracked into the territory. It currently takes about five days for a worker to get into Gaza, and the EU wants to shorten that to 48 hours. "There's an obligation to allow full and unfettered access," Clancy said. "It's unacceptable to have such a drop in access." He said Israel is considering the request. Clancy said that the EU has earmarked €58 million ($74 million) in aid for Gaza this year, but that figure is under revision in light of the increased needs because of Israel's three-week offensive against Hamas terrorists. Last week, meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah accused each other of stealing humanitarian aid that was on its way to the Palestinians in the Strip. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that dozens of trucks loaded with food and medicine were being held on the Egyptian side of the border at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The officials said that the humanitarian aid came from several Arab and Islamic countries about two weeks ago, and that the Egyptian authorities initially tried to deliver the aid to the Palestinians, but were stopped by Abbas. One Hamas official claimed that the aid had been diverted to the West Bank, where Fatah representatives confiscated the medicine and food. He did not rule out the possibility that some Fatah leaders were planning to sell the food and medicine in the black market. Fatah strongly denied the allegations and claimed that Hamas militiamen had been stealing the aid since the beginning of Israel's military operation. Fatah also warned donors against dealing with Hamas directly. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.