( dpa ) - Aid organizations operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appealed Tuesday to donors to contribute nearly 462 million US dollars so they may continue their work in 2008.
About a third of the money was need for building the Palestinian economy and infrastructure, a third for food aid, 9 per cent for water and sanitation, 8 per cent for health and the rest for other projects, representatives of United Nations agencies and 28 international and local non-governmental organisations said.
The requested sum for the Palestinian areas is the third-largest aid appeal in the world, they told a news conference in Jerusalem.
Slightly over half is requested by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), which operates refugee camps in the Palestinian areas, while the second-largest request is the World Food Programme.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) chief Manuel Bessor meanwhile called for a removal of Israeli military roadblocks in the West Bank and the opening of Gaza's borders to commercial traffic.
The number of roadblocks in the West Bank had virtually not changed since Israel and the Palestinians agreed at a November 27 conference in Annapolis, Maryland to revive their long-stalled peace process, he said.
He said the number of roadblocks had in fact gone up in 2007 from 528 to 561.
UNWRA for its part urged Israel to allow the entry into Gaza of raw materials such as building materials needed for homes, schools and clinics.
In response to daily rocket attacks and since the radical Islamic Hamas movement seized sole control of the Strip in June, Israel has closed its border crossings with Gaza to all commercial traffic, allowing through only humanitarian aid and basic necessities.
Israel says the measures are aimed at pressuring Hamas into ending the rocket attacks.
Gaza's economy is being "suffocated by closure. It must be given oxygen," UNWRA deputy chief Felippo Grande said.