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Fuel Allowed To Gaza, Other Crossings Still Closed

Fuel allowed into Gaza, but other crossings still closed, say UN officials

29 February 2008 - One border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip was opened for fuel today, allowing 400,000 litres to enter Gaza, but the three crossings for humanitarian and commercial goods remain closed, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported.

Today's opening means the electricity situation inside Gaza, home to an estimated 1.4 million people, has returned to where it was last week, according to UNSCO. That means power cuts of up to 12 hours a day in Gaza City and central Gaza.

Supplies of essential goods in Gaza have been dwindling since Israel imposed tight restrictions last month on entry to and exit from the area, in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza against targets in southern Israel.

UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly expressed concern in recent weeks about the humanitarian impact of the restrictions on daily life in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement today saying it was "seriously disturbed by the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in the Gaza Strip."

In just the past two days, the Bureau noted, 31 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes, including eight children and one infant, while an Israeli living in the town of Sderot was killed by a rocket launched from Gaza.

"Moreover, while overshadowed by the crisis in Gaza, Israeli military incursions into Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank continue unabated, resulting in casualties and arrests," the statement said.

The Bureau stressed that "the vicious cycle of violence must be broken and a ceasefire put into place."

ENDS

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