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Gaza crossings to re-open after six days of closure, but UNRWA still warns of food crisis

Nov. 12, 2008 12:20 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2008 12:20 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The United Nations still fears that it may be forced to suspend food aid to over 700,000 people in the Gaza Strip if Israel does not ease restrictions on imports of vital goods.

The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Wednesday that it will be forced to suspend operations if the weeklong closure of Gaza is not lifted by Friday.

"This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told reporters on Wednesday.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly ordered the Gaza Strip's border crossings reopened beginning with a shipment of fuel for the territory's only power plant on Wednesday.

Shipments of food and other humanitarian goods will resume on Thursday.

As of Wednesday, UNRWA officials said they had still not received clearance to ship goods into Gaza.

Gaza's borders have been closed for the past six days in retaliation for homemade rockets fired from Gaza.

The projectile salvos began last Tuesday when Israel invaded Gaza, killing six Palestinians and breaking a ceasefire that went into effect in June.

The Gaza Strip suffered two nights of blackouts when the Strip's power station ran out of fuel. Israel refused to allow more industrial grade fuel, which is paid for by the European Union, until Wednesday.

Acute shortages of other vital goods, such as wheat used to produce flour, have also been reported.

***Updated at 18:41 local time
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