The head of relief efforts in the area has warned that the UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
Handouts for 750 000 Gazans would have to be suspended at least until Saturday, said John Ging, adding that Gaza’s economic situation was “a disaster”.
Earlier, entry has been denied by Israel to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies. This way, Israel has prevented the transfer of all goods into Gaza for nearly a week, blaming continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.
About half of Gaza’s 1.5m population receives emergency aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
“We have run out [of food aid] this evening”, said Mr Ging, UNRWA’s senior official in Gaza.
“Unless the crossing points open… we won’t be able to get that food into Gaza”, he told Reuters news agency.
On Thursday, Israel also refused permission to visit the coastal enclave to a group of senior European diplomats.
And journalists have also been prevented from entering the territory.
On Tuesday, after Gaza’s only power plant ran out of diesel, limited supplies of fuel were sent over.
According to militants, the mortar and rocket fire is their response to what they say is Israeli aggression against Gaza.
Any improvement would be dependent on the Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip since June 2007, when it wrested power from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, said Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesman.
“There’s been a combat situation and it’s very difficult to have unhindered functioning of the border crossings in a situation where shooting is going on”, he said.
Four Palestinian militants from the Hamas movement were killed on Wednesday.
Fighting broke out on the Gaza border after Israeli armoured vehicles crossed into the territory near Khan Younis, said witnesses.
Israeli soldiers were trying to stop militants plant a bomb near the security fence surrounding the strip, said the army.
Most of the electricity used in Gaza City is provided by the Gaza power plant. Most of the rest of the territory’s energy needs is supplied by Israel. However the system is liable to become overloaded and blackouts are common.
Under Israeli control
In 1967, Gaza was occupied by Israel, but in the summer of 2005 military forces and Jewish settlers pulled out.
Access to the territory, where about 1.5m Palestinians live, remains under the control of Israel’s military, as well as its airspace and territorial waters.
The southern entrance to Gaza at Rafah is controlled by Egypt, which goes along with the policy of isolating the Hamas movement, seen as a terrorist group by Israel and its allies.
The current round of clashes and rocket fire began on 5 November when Israeli troops entered Gaza to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel dug by militants in order to abduct its troops.
The gunfight killed one militant, and at least five more died in an Israeli air strike on Hamas positions in southern Gaza.
Hamas response was a barrage of rockets fired into Israel. Since then there has been intermittent rocket fire, causing no Israeli casualties.
On 19 June, a truce began between the two sides and had largely held. Even though both sides have accused the other of violating the ceasefire, they maintain that they remain committed to it.