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Israel reopens crossings into Gaza

Israel has reopened crossing points into Gaza that it had closed following a bomb attack along the border but UN official in Gaza said that access still remained a problem with thousands of tons of aid sitting in Egypt, Jordan.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 12:12 IST

Israel has reopened crossing points into Gaza that it had closed following a bomb attack along the border but the top United Nations official in Gaza said that access still remained a problem with thousands of tons of aid sitting in Egypt, Jordan and the ports of Israel.

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported that the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Karni grain conveyor belt and the Nahal Oz fuel pipeline re-opened on Wednesday.

However, the UN called for speedy delivery of aid and easier access.

"That aid should be right here, right now, helping the people who need it," the Director of Operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), John Ging, said.

While Israel has allowed increased shipments of basic commodities with 120 truckloads getting in on good days, the normal daily requirement is a minimum of 500.

Ging noted that the number of people receiving UN food aid in Gaza following Israel's devastating three-week offensive against Hamas had now gone up to 900,000.

The growing number of aid-dependent Palestinians is due to the lack of an economy in Gaza, as well as the recent damage and destruction, he said.

UNRWA is distributing millions of dollars of cash assistance to those who have had their houses damaged and need temporary shelters, he added.

Israel's offensive, launched with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks against it, is estimated to have killed some 1,300 Palestinians, and injured more than 5,300 others, 34 per cent of them children, and destroyed or badly damaged 21,000 homes.