UN hails Israel decision to open crossing for aid into Gaza

by AFP

GENEVA – The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed an Israeli decision to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow aid into Gaza, and urged the opening of a second location to let in humanitarian workers.

Humanitarian aid is urgently needed in the Gaza Strip after over a week of air strikes that have killed more than 200 Palestinians there.

“We very much welcome the Israeli authorities’ opening of Kerem Shalom crossing for essential humanitarian supplies,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

He added that it was now “critical” that a separate crossing, Erez, also open “for the entry and exit of critical humanitarian staff”.

Going forward, he said, “humanitarian access into and out of Gaza for staff and goods must be sustained and appropriate measures taken to continue movements within Gaza.”

Israel launched its air campaign on the Gaza Strip on May 10 after the enclave’s rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, fired rockets in response to unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

In total, Israeli air strikes have killed 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, in Gaza — whilst rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups have killed 10 people in Israel, including a child, according to officials on both sides.

The conflict risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying some 47,000 Palestinians have been displaced, while more than 130 residential and commercial buildings in the enclave have been destroyed.