UN short of fuel for food deliveries in Gaza
( dpa ) - The UN Security Council held an unscheduled meeting Monday to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, where much-needed electrical power and fuel were cut off by Israel in what was feared to be a blockade of the Hamas-held territory.
The meeting was convened at the request of the Arab League, currently headed by Saudi Arabia, which said that the 15-nation Security Council should discuss the "Israeli aggression in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."
It was not certain what action the council could take in the face of the worsening crisis between Israel and Gaza, diplomats said. No action was taken when the body adjourned Monday night.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman in New York said that UN food supplies remain plentiful in the territory, but deliveries could be halted by Wednesday due to fuel shortages. An estimated 860,000 people in Gaza survive on UN food aid.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned late Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to voice concern about the situation. Last week, Ban urged Israel to avoid actions that could harm the civilian population in Gaza.
The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told reporters that the Arab bloc asked the council to call on Israel to restore electricity and delivery of fuel and goods to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.
He said cutting off the power and fuel amounted to a "collective punishment, which is a declaration of war against the Palestinian people."
He said without electricity, hospital patients and the entire population will suffer.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday authorized a one- time shipment of fuel to Gaza's power plant, but said Israel will continue to apply "pressure" on the Gaza Strip to end rocket attacks.
Israel largely closed its borders with Gaza after the radical Islamic Hamas movement captured an Israeli soldier, who is still being held captive, in a cross-border raid 18 months ago, and further tightened its blockade of the Strip in June, when Hamas seized sole control of the area from security forces loyal to Abbas.
On Friday, Israel closed its Nahal Oz and Kerem Shalom crossings, which had previously remained open, to shipments of basic necessities, including key food products, drugs and fuel.