01-08-2009, 07:15 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
UN suspends Gaza aid operations
Quote:The UN has said it is suspending aid operations in Gaza because its staff have been hit by Israeli attacks.
The suspension would continue "until the Israeli authorities can guarantee our safety and security", the UN said.
The international Red Cross has also accused Israel of failing to fulfil its duty to help wounded civilians in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the US, UK and France have dropped opposition to a UN resolution urging an immediate ceasefire, and Arab nations are studying a draft.
The US, UK and France had wanted a weaker statement, the BBC's Laura Trevelyan in New York says.
But Arab foreign ministers said anything less than a binding resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire would be an inadequate response to the crisis, our correspondent says.
If the Arab nations' response to the draft resolution is positive, a vote could happen later.
The draft calls for an immediate ceasefire, action to stop the smuggling of arms by Hamas across the Egypt-Gaza border and the opening of border crossings into Gaza so aid can be delivered.
The UN's suspension of aid efforts came shortly after it said one person had been killed and two hurt when a fork-lift truck on a UN aid mission came under Israeli tank fire at Gaza's Erez crossing.
The UN's relief agency Unwra said it was "with great regret" that it had been forced to make a difficult decision.
"We have suspended our operations in Gaza until the Israeli authorities can guarantee our safety and security," said Unwra spokesman Chris Gunness.
"Our installations have been hit, our workers have been killed in spite of the fact that the Israeli authorities have the co-ordinates of our facilities and that all our movements are co-ordinated with the Israeli army."
The UN said the movements of the truck hit at the Erez crossing had been co-ordinated with Israel.
The Israeli army has not commented on that claim but has said it is looking into the matter.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said its staff had found four weak and scared children beside their mothers' bodies in houses hit by shelling in Zeitoun.
The Israeli military has not yet responded to the accusation, but said it worked closely with aid groups so that civilians could get assistance.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International accused both Israel and Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
The aid agencies' concerns come amid fears the conflict with Gaza militants may spread, with at least three rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, prompting Israel to reply with artillery.
The incident followed the heaviest bombardment so far of Gaza in nearly two weeks of conflict, with 60 air strikes which Israel says targeted Hamas facilities.
Palestinian medical officials said at least 10 Gaza residents had been killed on Thursday.
More than 700 Palestinian and 11 Israeli lives are said to have been lost since the offensive began 13 days ago.
For a second day, Israel suspended its operation for three hours to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Efforts have continued to broker a full ceasefire - a senior Israeli official is in Cairo to hear details of a plan put forward by Egypt and France.
A Hamas delegation is expected in the Egyptian capital at some stage for parallel "technical" talks, Egyptian diplomats said.
At least three Katyusha rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into the northern Israeli area of Nahariya early on Thursday.
One hit a nursing home, injuring at least two people.
Israel immediately responded with five artillery shells into Lebanon, calling it a "pinpoint response at the source of fire".
The rocket fire was condemned by Lebanon's prime minister.
The rocket attacks from Lebanon have raised concerns about a wider war in the region, says the BBC's Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen.
Casualty claims in Gaza have been difficult to verify independently.
While the BBC's Palestinian producers have been reporting from Gaza, Israel allowed Western TV crews to enter only on Wednesday, embedded with its army.
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