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Israel allows food and fuel into besieged Gaza Strip

Nov. 24, 2008 9:26 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2008 9:26 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Israel allowed truckloads of food and fuel into the Gaza Strip on Monday, easing momentarily a crippling blockade of the coastal territory.

Head of the Products Coordination Committee for the Gaza Strip Ra'ed Fattouh said that 30 trucks carrying food were allowed into the Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

Twenty of the trucks were sent by international organizations, including the United Nations, which had been forced last week to suspend a food aid program for 750,000 Gazans due to the Israeli siege. Another ten trucks containing dairy products were shipped into the area by private sector firms.

Also entering the Strip were 230,000 liters of industrial-grade diesel fuel through the Nahal Oz terminal, destined for Gaza's only power plant which shutdown last week when fuel ran out.

At the Karni crossing, 20 truckloads of feed for animals as well as wheat for flower mills were shipped.

These shipments amounted to a reversal of an earlier decision announced by the Israeli defense ministry on Monday morning. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the military to continue a blockade of the Gaza Strip for the 20th straight day.

Barak later said that Israel would reopen the crossings if Palestinian fighters ceased their fire of homemade projectiles into Israel.

Two more projectiles were reportedly fired from Gaza late on Sunday, landing in the Western Negev desert. No damage or injuries resulted.

On Sunday Hamas said that Egyptian mediators had negotiated a return to a nearly abandoned five-month-old ceasefire between Israel and armed Palestinian groups. A senior Hamas official said that the armed organizations agreed to hold their fire if Israel reopens its border crossings with Gaza.

The truce agreement has been in question since Israel invaded the Gaza Strip on 4 November and imposed total closure on the coastal territory. Israel's incursions provoked renewed barrages of homemade rockets by Palestinian fighters.

The Israeli blockade has caused widespread blackouts and shortages of food and medicine. The Strip's only power plant has been shut down due to a lack of fuel.

***Updated at 16:47 local time

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