EU asks Israel to ensure delivery of fuel supplies to Gaza Strip

Israel Materials 24 April 2008 17:03 (UTC +04:00)

European Union commissioner Louis Michel on Thursday called upon Israel to ensure the delivery of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, dpa reported.

The call follows a warning Wednesday from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which said it would have to halt the distribution of food assistance to 650,000 refugees in the enclave because of a fuel shortage.

"It is unacceptable that the UN should find itself having to consider suspending its humanitarian operations simply for a lack of fuel for its vehicles," said Michel, who holds the EU executive's development and humanitarian aid portfolio.

"It is essential that the fuel supply to Gaza is resumed, and in particular that fuel provision for the United Nation's agencies as well as basic services be guaranteed immediately," he added.

The EU is the biggest donor to the Palestinian Territories, and the commission's relief package for Gaza alone amounts to almost 30 million euros (48 million dollars), officials in Brussels said.

The Israeli government has accused the local Hamas administration of causing a "fabricated crisis" by refusing to collect and distribute one million litres of fuel it has delivered to the enclave.