First Published: 2009-01-23

 
US, UN call on Israel to open Gaza borders
 

UN humanitarian chief: Israeli offensive against Gaza caused more destruction than expected.

 

Middle East Online

Holmes: 'shocking'

JERUSALEM - The Palestinians of Gaza urgently need hundreds of millions of dollars for food and repairs, the UN said on Friday, as the US president added his voice to a clamour for Israel to fully open the enclave to aid.

The UN humanitarian chief said the Israeli offensive against Gaza had caused more destruction than expected and called the death toll "shocking".

"A very significant appeal for resources of hundreds of millions of dollars," was required at the start of February for just the next six to nine months, John Holmes told a press conference.

"The level of destruction, which I expected to be high ... was even worse than what I expected," he said after touring Gaza.

He noted that the Palestinian health ministry listed more than 1,300 dead and 5,000 wounded during Israel's 22-day Operation Cast Lead. "They are very alarming figures, very shocking figures for a three-week campaign like that."

Gazans urgently need food, drinking water, fuel and the repair of the electricity network, Holmes said. At least 100,000 of the 1.5 million population have been displaced.

In Washington, US President Barak Obama urged Israel to open Gaza border crossings to aid and commerce.

"Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace, as part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce," Obama said.

"Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them," Obama said.

Holmes said the UN needed the crossing points "fully open" to be able to do its job.

The UN humanitarian chief said that the some 120 trucks being allowed into Gaza daily is "far from enough." "The basic requirements of Gaza for humanitarian and commercial goods, before the Hamas takeover (June 2007), was 500 to 600 hundreds trucks a day."

The Israeli army also allowed journalists into the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority welcomed the appointment of former senator George Mitchell as the new US envoy to the Middle East.

"He's someone with experience of the Israel-Palestinian question and the settlement of political conflicts," Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmad Qorei said.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said he hoped that Mitchell would bring "the change needed for a new start in the peace process leading to the creation of a Palestinian state."

Meanwhile, Hamas sent a three-man team to Cairo for talks on consolidating the ceasefire with Israel, a spokesman for the Islamist movement said.

Hamas has warned it will resume its resistance if Israel does not open the crossings.

Some 200,000 Palestinian children were to return to UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The United Nations relief agency operates 221 schools in the coastal enclave where more than 437 children were among the dead.

 

Rouhani seizes opportunity to get closer to Qatar

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts