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17 November 2008 – A border crossing into the Gaza Strip opened today, allowing a limited amount of humanitarian supplies to the 1.5 million residents forcibly confined to the area, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported today.
But fuel pipelines remained closed, leaving Gaza with continued disruptions to its power supplies and adding to the rapid decline of socio-economic conditions, UNSCO said.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) was able to get nine trucks into the area today as barriers at the Kerem Shalom crossing – close to the meeting of the border between Gaza, Israel and Egypt – were lifted for the first time in almost two weeks.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also managed to get eight trucks into Gaza, carrying luncheon meat and powdered milk for babies. However, authorities opened many of powdered milk containers with knives, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage, according to UNRWA.
UNRWA said that although its food distribution programme will be able to resume tomorrow, it will operate for “days, not weeks,” stressing that it needs a consistent and large-scale influx of supplies to continue its operation.