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Israeli army relaxes restrictions on humanitarian aid to Gaza

The Israeli army allowed a limited number of trucks carrying humanitarian assistance into Gaza for the first time in two weeks on Monday. However, the long-term nature of the blockade and restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza has led to a situation where reserves have long been depleted. "What is necessary, at a minimum, is for Israel to allow regular and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and other basic necessities into Gaza," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "The trickle of humanitarian and medical supplies which Israel allows into Gaza is not even enough to meet basic daily needs and certainly not enough to build reserves; so when the inflow is suspended even for a few days this immediately causes a crisis as there is no back up." "It will last a matter of days. But then what?" Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said of the new supplies. The Israeli army has not, however, relaxed the restrictions on the European Union-donated industrial fuel needed to power Gaza's power plant, meaning that a blackout continues in large parts of Gaza City. Since the Israeli strikes that killed six Palestinian militants on 4 November, 10 others have been killed in Israeli air strikes and other attacks. These have prompting a daily barrage of Palestinian rockets into nearby Israeli towns and villages. Two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded, but, for the most part, these rockets fell in empty areas causing no casualties or damage. Amnesty International has reiterated its call for an end to the dangerous spate of attacks and counter-attacks must be swiftly halted. "Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups must immediately cease attacks and actions which put the lives of the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Israel at risk,” said Donatella Rovera. "The five-and-a-half-month ceasefire had brought some respite to civilians; both sides need to understand the consequences of their actions."