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Gaza: Basic food supplies may run out within days

Nov. 16, 2008 1:57 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 16, 2008 1:57 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - The Gaza Strip will run out of basic supplies of food in the next few days if Israel or Egypt does not ease a strict eleven-day blockade of the territory, a senior Palestinian official warned on Sunday.

De facto Minister of National Economy Ziyad Thatha said, "There is a food and humanitarian crisis [in] the Gaza Strip where crossings have been closed for the eleventh day.

Israel invaded the Gaza Strip on 4 November, breaking a five-month -old ceasefire agreement and sparking renewed cross-border violence. Israel also sealed its borders with Gaza, blocking deliveries of basic good such as food and fuel.

The United Nation's relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, was forced to suspend its food program on Friday after its trucks were turned away at the border. UNRWA is responsible for feeding 750,000 Gazans.

Thatha singled out Egypt, calling for the opening of the Rafah crossing following terms of the truce agreement which it brokered. He also urged Arab states to "stand by" Egypt in order to save Gaza from the current crisis.

He said "all aspects of life" have been affected by the closure of Rafah and the other, Israeli-controlled crossings. He noted that Gaza's only power plant shut down on Thursday due to a lack of fuel. There have also been acute shortages of cooking gas and other fuels.

Thatha said the depth of the crisis would be revealed when remaining supplies of cooking gas run out.

He added that "160 families" are in "urgent" need of food aid. Eighty percent of Gazans are living below the poverty level.

All this, he argued, could be solved by opening the Rafah border.

Thatha called on Arab states and the international community at large to adopt the view of Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh, who criticized the United Nations for applying a double standard to Israel's actions.
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