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Gaza's sole crossing to open for limited goods

March 6, 2011 9:52 A.M. (Updated: March 6, 2011 9:43 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The sole operating commercial border terminal between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Kerem Shalom crossing, will open Sunday for the limited delivery of goods and humanitarian aid, Palestinian officials said.

Liaison official Raed Fattouh said Israeli authorities decided to allow the entry of around 160 truckloads, and the export of two truckloads of flowers grown in Gaza to European countries.

Limited quantities of industrial-grade diesel and domestic-use gas will also be delivered to the besieged coastal enclave, he added.

Israeli authorities recently closed the bulk goods Karni crossing in the northeast permanently, leaving the southernmost Kerem Shalom crossing as the only terminal to import goods for 1.6 million residents, most of whom are refugees.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, expressed serious concern over the closure.

UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told Ma'an the closure would add 20 percent to the costs of delivering aid to Gaza at a time when the international body faced budget deficits of over $50 million.

The closure would also concern donor countries, who would be forced to work solely via Kerem Shalom, Abu Hasna said.

Aid entering Gaza was at 40 percent of pre-siege levels, he noted, adding that the UN secretary general and senior US officials had described the blockade as a form of illegal collective punishment.

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