United Nations Halts Food Aid to Gaza

April 25, 2008 02:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A fuel crisis following the Israeli embargo on Gaza has forced UN relief agencies to stop delivering food. Israel blames Hamas for the fuel shortages.

30-Second Summary

"All of our regular food operations have stopped because of the fuel shortage," UN spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told the BBC on April 24.

The stoppage leaves 700,000 Palestinians without basic food deliveries.

Hamas blames the crisis on Israel, which has restricted shipments of fuel and supplies into Gaza since June 2007, when Hamas took control of the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and refuses to recognize the state of Israel.

But Israel claims Hamas is to blame because it has blocked Israeli deliveries. A recent “farmers’ demonstration supported by Hamas” stopped Israel’s latest effort to bring in fuel for relief workers, said Israeli spokesperson Arye Mekel.

As charges fly between Israel and Hamas, one fact is undisputed: Gaza’s beleaguered inhabitants are again caught in the middle.

On Jan. 20, much of Gaza City went dark after the town’s main power plant ran out of fuel. Earlier this month, gas and diesel shipments were cut off after Palestinian militants besieged Nahal Oz, where there is a fuel terminal, killing two Israelis.

The last shipment of gas and diesel to reach Gaza arrived on April 9. Al-Jazeera reports 20 percent of Gaza’s ambulances are out of fuel, with another 60 percent due to run out in a week.

UN Middle East Coordinator Robert Serry responded on April 23 to the latest crisis by calling on Hamas to end attacks on deliveries, and urging Israel to “restore fuel, humanitarian assistance and commercial supplies” shipped into Gaza. “It is wrong for Israel to punish a civilian population,” he added.

Headline Links: UN aid on hold

Background: Factional fighting and embargoes plague region

Historical Context: Palestinian-Israeli conflict

The War of Independence, 1948

Israel was founded after World War II, in the shadow of the Holocaust and under the auspices of the United Nations. The original UN plan was to divide the area then called Palestine into separate, autonomous Arab and Jewish states.

Arab-Israeli conflict, 1948 onward
The Six-Day War, 1967

The prologue to the Six-Day War was Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision to send troops into the Sinai, the isthmus of land joining Egypt to Israel, and to set up a naval blockade around the Red Sea port town of Eilat. In June 1967, Israel acted preemptively to counter the strike it alleged was being planned by its neighbors.

The Israeli military crushed the armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, destroying most of the Egyptian air force before it had time to scramble one plane. Israel pushed its borders outward occupying territory in the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Opinion & Analysis: Misconceptions distort understanding of Middle East issues

Related Topic: ‘Jimmy Carter Gets Tepid Reception in Israel’

Reference: The Gaza Strip and humanitarian efforts


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