UN agency urges Israel to allow emergency fuel into Gaza

Palestinians sit in a car after they received aids from a United Nations food distribution centre in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2018
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UN agency urges Israel to allow emergency fuel into Gaza

  • Israel halted the supply of petroleum and natural gas to Gaza last week in response to incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel
  • Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza

JERUSALEM: A UN aid agency is calling on Israel to let emergency fuel into the Gaza Strip to avert the shutdown of hospitals and sanitation facilities.
Jamie McGoldrick, from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, on Wednesday called Israel’s restriction of fuel imports “a dangerous practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza.”
Israel halted the supply of petroleum and natural gas to Gaza last week in response to incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel. Israel temporarily suspended fuel shipments to Gaza in July for similar reasons.
A decade-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007 has left the coastal territory with crippling fuel shortages and Gazans with just a few hours of electricity a day.

Swedish activists deported
Seven Swedish activists detained by Israeli forces for attempting to breach its blockade of Gaza have been deported to Sweden, the organizers of the Ship to Gaza activist flotilla said Wednesday.
Four of the activists arrived back in the Scandinavian country on Wednesday, and the three others were expected later in the day, Ship to Gaza Sweden spokesman Dror Feiler told AFP.
The Israeli navy said it intercepted the ship, Freedom for Gaza, late Friday “in accordance with international law,” and took it to the port of Ashdod.
The ship was carrying medical supplies and had a total of 12 crew and activists on board, hailing from Sweden, Spain, Canada and Germany and France. All have been deported, Feiler said.
Meanwhile, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Wednesday Israel’s interception and boarding of the ship, as well as the detention of the activists and crew, violated international law.
“The (Swedish) government has been in contact with Israeli authorities about Ship to Gaza and has insisted that the actions of the Israeli authorities regarding the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the people on board are not backed up by international law,” Wallstrom said, adding that her government had also demanded that the ship and its cargo be released.
Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza, organizers said.
Four boats left Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, with two remaining behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.
On Sunday, the Israeli navy intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat that was part of the flotilla.


Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

Updated 24 May 2019
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Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Israel is bracing for renewed wildfires amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions.
The EU ambassador, Emanuele Giaufret, said Israel had asked for international help to combat the fires, and aid was arriving on Friday from Cyprus and Italy.
Plumes of smoke rose from hillsides in the country’s center and south as firefighters worked into the early hours to control the blaze.
The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.