UN stops Gaza food deliveries over fuel shortage

Other News Materials 25 April 2008 03:36 (UTC +04:00)

The United Nations has stopped food aid deliveries for 650,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip because of fuel shortages, a UN spokesperson told local media late Thursday, the dpa reported.

Because there is no petrol for vehicles, the packages of food will not be able to reach the distribution points, the spokesman for the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said.

Meanwhile, a high ranking officer of the Israeli Army has announced a direct delivery of fuel to UNRWA for Friday.

Colonel Nir Press, the Israeli military officer in charge of border traffic with the Gaza Strip, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Israel has coordinated with Palestinian oil officials a delivery of 100,000 litres diesel and 20,000 litres petrol for UNRWA.

Israel has insisted over the past days that there are nearly 1 million litres of fuel stored on the Palestinian side of the border crossing at Nachal Oz in the northern Gaza Strip, and charged that the militant Islamic Hamas organization was trying to create a humanitarian crisis by not distributing the fuel.

Press repeated Israel's charges that Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for 10 months, has failed to distribute any fuel for four weeks - not even to UNRWA.

Hamas has announced massive protests for Friday at all border crossings in Gaza.

Press said that Israel on Wednesday delivered 1 million litres of heavy diesel for the single electricity plant in the region. In addition, on Thursday, more than 70 trucks with medicine and food had entered the Gaza Strip at the Sufa crossing, Press said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs already warned on Wednesday it would have to halt the distribution of food assistance due to the fuel shortage.

"Hamas can take the fuel but doesn't," Israel Foreign Ministry Spokesman Arye Mekel charged earlier, accusing the Islamist organization which rules Gaza of propaganda.