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UN: Israel must allow full access for aid, supplies to rehabilitate Gaza

Source: Xinhua | 01-28-2009 17:05

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- A top United Nations humanitarian official Tuesday called on Israel to immediately openup crossing points into Gaza for full access to relief aid following its devastating three-week offensive against Hamas militants.

"Israel has a particular responsibility as the occupying power in this context, because of its control of Gaza's borders with Israel, to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law," UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told the Security Council in a report on his just-completed visit to Gaza, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"It is therefore critical that new steps are taken immediately by the Israeli authorities to move to the sustained re-opening of crossing points," he said, stressing that improving the living conditions of Gaza's 1.5 million people was vital to avoid further despair and undermining the two-state diplomatic solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict.

As he did frequently during the assault Israel launched on Dec.27, 2008, with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, Holmes meted out blame to both sides in the conflict.

"The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas, and the indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations, are clear violations of international humanitarian law," he said. However, even taking into account Israel's security concern to protect its own civilian population, it is clear that there are major questions to be asked about the failure of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to protect effectively civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza.