01/10/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE - UN
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UN resumes distribution of aid in Gaza. Third week of war begins

The humanitarian situation in the Strip is becoming increasingly "worrying": 80% of the Palestinian population face critical conditions, while the death toll has risen to 800. Israel and Hamas reject a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, and continue to fight.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Nations has announced the resumption of the distribution of humanitarian aid for the Palestinians in Gaza, while Israel and Hamas reject the request for a ceasefire, passed yesterday by the UN Security Council, and the winds of war continue to blow in the Strip.

There are no encouraging signs in the crisis in the Holy Land, where the raids continue by the Israeli army against the positions of Hamas, which is responding by launching rockets at Israeli cities along the border. From the humanitarian front comes news of the resumption of the distribution of aid, after reassurances provided by Tel Aviv guaranteeing the safety of international workers taking basic necessities to the Palestinian population.

Yesterday evening, a joint statement from the UN agency for refugees and the UN special coordinator for the peace process in the Middle East announced the resumption of humanitarian operations in Gaza, after receiving "credible assurances that the security of UN personnel, installations and humanitarian operations would be fully respected." The operations, expected to resume "as soon as possible," were suspended on January 8 because of an attack on a United Nations vehicle by the Israeli army, following which a Palestinian driver died. Yesterday, the International Committee of the Red Cross limited its activities in Gaza, after one of its convoys was hit by Israeli artillery. Tel Aviv says it "deeply regrets" the incidents, which "do not reflect" government policy.

In the meantime, the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is becoming increasingly severe: about 80% of the one and a half million Palestinians need assistance, and the situation is "extremely worrying." According to the latest figures, 792 Palestinians have died, and more than 3,200 have been injured. There are 13 victims on the Israeli side.

The war in the Holy Land is now in its 15th day: this morning, there were new air and ground attacks by the Israeli military, to which Hamas militants responded by launching rockets. In Jabalya, a refugee camp in the north of the Strip, an Israeli tank opened fire, killing eight Palestinians, all of them members of the same family.

On the diplomatic front, Palestinian president Abu Mazen, on a visit to Cairo, issued an appeal to both sides for an immediate ceasefire. But Israel and Hamas both seem to prefer the logic of war: they have rejected resolution 1860 approved yesterday by the UN Security Council, which called for an "immediate and durable" end to the hostilities. Israeli prime minister Olmert called it "unworkable," while Hamas accuses the United Nations of failing to consult the group.

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