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Sunday, November 16, 2008
Amnesty urges Israel to allow vital supplies into Gaza
LONDON (Agencies)-- Amnesty International on Friday urged Israeli authorities to immediately let essential supplies into the Gaza Strip and end its “collective punishment” of local residents.
“Israel's latest tightening of its blockade has made an already dire humanitarian situation markedly worse,” said Philip Luther, deputy director of the London-based body's Middle East and north Africa program.
“This is nothing short of collective punishment on Gaza's civilian population and it must stop immediately.”
The EU has also urged Israel to let aid through, calling the decision to close Gaza crossing points “disproportionate”.
A statement from Amnesty added that the current situation was “nothing short of a disaster”.
Earlier, UK-based aid agency Oxfam warned of catastrophe for Gaza if a truce between Palestinian resistance fighters and Israel agreed in June is not maintained.
Oxfam called on world leaders to do their utmost to break Israel's blockade of Gaza and urged Israel to resume supplies to the territory, after it was sealed off earlier this week following rocket attacks from Palestinian militants allegedly in response to an earlier Israeli air strike that killed six.
Even the “trickle of humanitarian aid” previously allowed into Gaza, on which 80 percent of the population depends, has now been stopped for nine days by the Israeli army, Amnesty said.
The delivery of medical supplies and the industrial fuel donated by the European Union which is needed to power Gaza’s power plant has also been blocked, Amnesty said.
This has led to a blackout in large parts of Gaza.
Residents also told Amnesty they had difficulty finding bread and other basic items like candles, while their homes were in darkness.
The Israeli authorities have been denying international journalists access to Gaza for a week, and on Thursday refused entry to a group of international diplomats.
Israel sealed off the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on November 5 following a flare-up of violence.