Aid groups urge Israel to lift Gaza blockade

Meanwhile, Israeli farmer comes under sniper fire while ploughing field near Gaza-Israel border • Netanyahu spokesman: All cargo going into Gaza must be checked because Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.

Reuters and Israeli Hayom Staff

 

 

Fifty international aid groups and U.N. agencies issued a joint appeal on Thursday calling on Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. On the same day, an Israeli farmer was wounded by sniper fire from Gaza.

“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.

Hamas naval police in boats at the Gaza City port during preparations for the arrival of a flotilla that was said to be carrying humanitarian aid in May 2010. | Photo credit: AP

Hamas naval police in boats at the Gaza City port during preparations for the arrival of a flotilla that was said to be carrying humanitarian aid in May 2010. - Photo credit: AP

Among 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 after 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.

Israel has relaxed its restrictions over the past two years in the face of heavy international pressure, but insists on checking all goods entering the territory to prevent arms and weapons-making equipment from reaching Hamas.

“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 items while the regime in Gaza is as hostile and aggressive as it is to Israel?”

Based on initial reports, the farmer, a new immigrant from Norway and a father of four, was driving a tractor in a field some 400 meters from the Gaza-Israel border when he came under sniper fire and was lightly wounded. He managed to stop the tractor and take cover behind it. Israeli troops arrived soon afterward and brought him to safety.

“He called us right away and told us he had been shot at,” said Moshe David, the agricultural director for Kibbutz Nir Oz. “We understood from him that he was alright, and that he was cut by some glass shrapnel but wasn’t really hurt. He jumped off the tractor and took cover behind one of the wheels.” According to David, Israeli troops came to the farmer’s aid some 10 minutes after he first reported the attack.

“This was something ordinary in the past, but these days is really a surprise. There are explosions, but direct fire on a tractor we haven’t had,” David said.

Hamas’ 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.

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=4690

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