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Middle east

Human toll inevitable in Gaza blockade

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA , Nesrine TRABELSI , Radjaa ABOU DAGGA

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-21

Israel's blockade of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip - a response to violence by militants - has left the area's poorest residents in a state of despair. Watch our special report.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demanded in a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday that the world stop ignoring attacks on Israel by Gaza militants.
  
Livni "demanded that the international community stop applying a policy of ignoring acts of terror aimed at hurting innocent people," her office said in a statement.
  
"The international community must sound its voice and influence more clearly and decisively," she said.
  
The UN chief on Tuesday urged Israel to ease the delivery of humanitarian supplies into the Hamas-ruled territory, where more than half of the population depends on foreign aid.
  
Israel sealed off all of its crossings with Gaza after violence flared up earlier this month and has since allowed in only 33 truckloads of basic supplies.
  
The UN Relief and Works Agency, which hands out food to about half of Gaza's 1.5 million population, only has enough supplies to continue the distribution for another two days, spokesman Chris Gunness said.
  
Cash distributions to 98,000 Gaza residents were suspended on Wednesday after Israel refused to allow the money to be brought into the territory, Gunness said.
  
"These are some of the poorest people in the Gaza Strip," he told AFP.
  
Bakeries also will soon have to shut down for want of flour if Israel does not ease its crippling blockade, the bakers' association warned.
  
The violence, which left 15 Palestinians dead since November 4, has rocked a fragile five-month old truce in and around the impoverished territory and prompted Israel to tighten the blockade it imposed after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in Gaza in June last year.
  
"There is no way where the rocket fire against Israeli citizens can continue without retaliation from the Israeli government," Livni was quoted as telling Ban.
  
On Thursday, one rocket exploded in southern Israel without causing any casualties or damage, a military spokesman said.

Date created : 2008-11-20

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