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Israeli Blockade Eased as Fuel, Supply Trucks Enter Gaza

Israel has allowed a one-day delivery of food and fuel to the Gaza Strip, partially lifting a nearly week-long blockade of the territory. VOA's Jim Teeple has details from our Jerusalem bureau.

Israeli officials say they are allowing 2.2 million liters of fuel into Gaza - enough fuel for the Gaza power plant to generate electricity for about a week. The plant ran out of fuel on Sunday, shutting off power to Gaza City.

There were also deliveries of diesel fuel for hospital generators, cooking gas, food, and medicine - the first such deliveries since last Thursday when Israel sealed its borders with Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket attacks against the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

U.N. officials who had warned of an imminent humanitarian crisis welcomed the decision, but they say the threat of future closures makes it impossible to plan for reliable delivery of humanitarian supplies to Gaza's population. Chris Gunness is a spokesman for the United Nations in Jerusalem.

"This drip-drip, on-off, here-today gone-tomorrow policy of the Israeli establishment does not allow to plan or sustain a human development humanitarian operation to over one million people," he said.

Israeli officials say their policy of sealing Gaza's borders worked, saying Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot virtually ceased after the power went out in Gaza. Ariyeh Mekel is Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman.

"What we will do is monitor the situation, and we will monitor two things; the number of Qassams or attacks on Israel," said Mekel. "We will monitor this, but we will also monitor the humanitarian situation in Gaza because we do not want a humanitarian crisis."

Mekel says those two conditions will determine whether Israel allows more supplies into Gaza or not.