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Gaza workers rally against crossings closures

Jan. 22, 2011 4:51 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 23, 2011 9:23 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Truck drivers and crossings workers rallied on Saturday in Gaza City to protest Israel's ongoing closure of crossings into the coastal enclave.

The Society of Transport organized a sit-in outside the Society of Palestinian Businessmen, calling for the unrestricted opening of crossings to allow supplies into the besieged Gaza Strip.

Transport society secretary Jehad Salimah said the northern Karni crossing was like an artery into Gaza, feeding life into the Strip.

The crossing is the main entry-point for bulk-goods into Gaza. It was opened Friday after an 8-day closure to allow in emergency supplies, as flour mills and bakeries shut down due to a shortage of wheat.

Officials in Gaza say Israel will close Karni crossing permanently at the end of January,

The terminal has opened approximately twice a week since August 2009, a reduced schedule from the six-days a week planned.

For over a week, the southernmost Kerem Shalom crossing was the sole delivery point for the commercial and humanitarian supplies for the entire Gaza Strip.

Israeli authorities closed the crossing on Friday.

UNRWA spokesman in Jerusalem Chris Gunness told Ma'an "Kerem Shalom is a bottleneck through which we are forced to bring assistance to over one million people."

"The 2005 crossings agreement must be implemented," he continued, "and a consistent and predictable schedule for the import and export of goods from Karni established."

Salimah called on President Mahmoud Abbas to form an independent committee to manage the crossings, and to bring to account those who benefit from the crisis.

He also urged Turkey and the Mideast Quartet - Russia, the EU, the US and UK - to intervene to resolve the issue.
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