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Palestine
UN calls for Egypt, Arab League to pressure Israel.
UN calls for Egypt, Arab League to pressure Israel.
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees called on Egypt and the Arab League to pressure Israel to give permission for reconstruction equipment into the blockaded Gaza Strip. Filippo Grandi, the head of the agency, on Monday told AFP that his organization is looking to move into Gaza in order to help rebuild the war-torn and economically impoverished area.
Thursday, February 11,2010 22:34
BM&Ikhwanweb

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees called on Egypt and the Arab League to pressure Israel to give permission for reconstruction equipment into the blockaded Gaza Strip. Filippo Grandi, the head of the agency, on Monday told AFP that his organization is looking to move into Gaza in order to help rebuild the war-torn and economically impoverished area.

“I am in Cairo to discuss the situation in Gaza and to call on the Cairo government and the Arab League to continue pressure on the state of Israel to lift entry restrictions on people and construction equipment,” he told AFP.

However, activists and commentators have said that Egypt does not need to ask for Israeli permission in order to allow the equipment into Gaza. One activist and commentator said that “Egypt has a border with Gaza that does not link through Israel, so why would they need Israel’s permission to allow humanitarian aid into the area?”

Since Hamas ousted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party from Gaza in June 2007 to take control of the 1.5 million person area, Israel and Egypt have imposed a strict blockade on Gaza in an attempt to isolate the Islamic group. Yet, in nearly three years, it has done little, international experts say, in making this a reality.

“We are supporting Hamas because they are here and at least they are helping us,” said Ahmed Ghanem, a Gaza City-based driver.

In December 2008, Israel launched a 22-day war against Hamas in Gaza. The bombing campaign and incursion left some 1,400 Palestinians dead and 13 Israeli soldiers killed. It has left Gazans without basic needs and infrastructure as international humanitarian organizations have been unable to enter the area due to Egypt and Israel’s blockade.

Israel refuses to let construction materials into Gaza, arguing Hamas would use them for military purposes.

“We respect Israel’s security concerns. They are legitimate concerns, but we have offered very precise guarantees that the material we receive would only be used for our reconstruction projects,” Grandi said.

“We have very strict procedures, and we are very scrupulous as far as the use of the resources we receive for our projects” is concerned, he said.

Grandi, who was appointed commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees on January 20, on Sunday met Arab League chief Amr Mussa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Egypt is the current president of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission, a committee grouping 23 countries tasked with assisting in the agency’s work.

According to Grandi, the situation in Gaza can only be described as a “very serious crisis.”

“It’s a crisis that affects all aspects of life for the residents of Gaza,” he said.

“It’s an economic crisis with a crumbling private sector, it’s a social crisis, a crisis of institutions, it’s a very serious general crisis that the banning of construction material renders even more serious,” he said.

Grandi also called for the lifting of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, saying that in the long term, it will be a risk for Israel and the region.

“As an occupying power, Israel has the responsibility to let goods get into the Gaza Strip,” he said.

The fact that Israel does not do so “has created an illegal economy based on smuggling through tunnels,” under the border with Egypt, he said. “It is a risk for the stability of the Gaza Strip, for the whole region and for the security of Israel.”

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tags: United Nations / Gaza / Abbas / Rafah Crossing / Gaza Siege / Steel Wall / Arab League / Palestinian Refugees / Solidarity With Palestinian / Humanitarian Aid / Israeli Blockade
Posted in Palestine , Human Rights  
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