SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip - Gazans
seeking food aid walked away empty-handed from locked United Nations
distribution centers Saturday after a strict Israeli border closure
depleted U.N. food reserves.
Gaza's borders nearly two weeks ago as part of a new round of fighting
with Gaza's Hamas rulers. Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border towns and
Israeli air strikes on Gaza militants have eroded a truce that had
largely held for five months.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to open the crossings to
humanitarian aid and condemned the rocket fire on Israel. Measures that
increase the suffering of Gaza's civilians "are unacceptable and should
cease immediately," he said in a statement.
Two Palestinians were killed in disputed circumstances in northern Gaza.
Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, citing reports from
local medics, said the two were killed by an Israeli airstrike.
However, the military said Israeli forces were not involved and in the
past, militants have sometimes been killed by Gaza rockets that fell
short or exploded early.
In the Shati refugee
camp near Gaza City, hundreds of people walked away empty-handed from a
U.N. food distribution center Saturday. A note taped to the center's
blue gate said handouts were put off until Dec. 13 "because of a lack
of food to distribute."
In all, the U.N.
Relief and Works Agency distributes food to some 750,000 Gazans, or
nearly half the territory's population. The needy get a new parcel of
rice, flour, sugar and oil every three months. On Saturday, some 20,000
Gazans were to pick up food supplies, U.N. aid officials said.
Itaf Yazji arrived at the Shati distribution center Saturday, only to find it locked.
shall we eat now?" said the 54-year-old mother of five, who also cares
for a disabled relative. Yazji said she had been waiting anxiously to
pick up food because her family ran out of rice and flour.
The U.N. World Food Program, which feeds another 130,000 Gazans, says it has enough food to distribute for the next four weeks.
of Gaza's 1.4 million residents live in poverty that has deepened since
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory after militant
group Hamas seized power in July last year.
cease-fire began to deteriorate last week after an Israeli military
raid on what the army said was a tunnel that militants planned to use
for a cross-border raid. At least 11 militants have been killed since,
not including the latest casualties. And some 140 rockets and mortars
have been fired from Gaza at Israel. They include four Grad-type
Katyushas that landed in Ashkelon on Friday, some 11 miles from Gaza.
the blockade, Israel is meant to allow in humanitarian aid, rationed
fuel and some commercial goods. Israel says the closure was imposed in
response to continued violence.
In the West
Bank town of Ramallah, a Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said
President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with the outgoing Israeli prime
minister on Monday and raise his concern about the Gaza fighting.
two leaders have met regularly for the past year as part of U.S.-backed
peace talks. However, all sides have acknowledged that they will miss
the end-of-year target for a peace deal. Olmert has three months left