Aid groups urge Israel to lift Gaza blockade (REUTERS) Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Editing by Jeffrey Heller GAZA 06/14/12 5:15am EDT)
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(Reuters) - Fifty international aid groups and United Nations
agencies issued a joint appeal on Thursday calling on Israel to lift
its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas Islamists.
"For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been
under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of
these people are children. We the undersigned say with one
voice: ´end the blockade now,´" the petition said.
Amongst the signatories were Amnesty International, Save the
Children, the World Health Organization, Oxfam, the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights and five other U.N. bodies.
Israel imposed restrictions on trade to Gaza in 2001 following the
outbreak of a Palestinian uprising and tightened them further in 2007
after Hamas seized power in the coastal enclave adjacent to Egypt,
which also enforces a blockade.
It has relaxed them over the past two years in the face of heavy
international pressure, but insists on checking all goods entering
the territory to prevent arms, or weapons-making equipment, from
"All cargo going into Gaza must be checked because Gaza is controlled
by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization," said
Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Just this morning an Israeli farmer who was ploughing his field was
shot at from Gaza. Is it really fair to expect Israel to remove the
restriction on military use items while the regime in Gaza is as
hostile and aggressive as it is to Israel?"
Hamas´s founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel, but its
leadership has raised the possibility of entering into a prolonged
truce with Israel after years of bloodshed. (© Thomson Reuters 2012.
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