UN appeals for $462 mn for West Bank, Gaza

November 27th, 2008 - 2:52 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza/Jerusalem, Nov 27 (DPA) UN aid agencies asked international donors Wednesday for $462 million to help fund their activities in Gaza and the West Bank in 2009, saying most of the money was needed for emergency food and cash assistance to Palestinians.Conditions in Gaza have worsened over the past three weeks amid a breakdown of a five-month-old ceasefire, with Israel slapping a near-total closure on the strip in response to renewed rocket fire.

Israel however allowed 70 tonnes of gas into Gaza as well as 10 trucks carrying aid and basic supplies Wednesday, following a reduction in rocket attacks over nearly one week.

Militants from Gaza have fired nearly 160 rockets and mortar shells at Israel over the past three weeks, responding to a Nov 4 clash between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants which left six Palestinians dead.

Both Hamas, the radical Islamic movement ruling Gaza, and Israel have said they are interested in restoring the truce, brokered by Egypt on June 19, though each have also threatened with harsh responses if the other side did not abide by it.

Since Nov 4, Israel has opened its borders only twice to two convoys of 33 and 45 trucks of basic humanitarian supplies and limited amounts of industrial diesel for Gaza’s power plant, in addition to Wednesday’s new shipment.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard accused Israel of “a massive assault on the human rights of the people living in Gaza”.

Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem at which the UN launched its appeal for $462 million for its activities in both Gaza and the West Bank for 2009, he said many of its aid agencies were reduced to giving emergency food and cash assistance.

More than half the money, around $274 million, is meant for UNWRA, the UN agency which assists Palestinians living in the refugee camps it runs throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

UNWRA’s deputy commissioner general, Filippo Grandi, said that since Israel re-tightened its closure of Gaza three weeks ago, his organisation was able to transport only 16 trucks with humanitarian aid into the Strip. The minimum to cover humanitarian needs was 15 trucks a day, he said.

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