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Ban calls for end to rocket attacks from Gaza, Israeli resumption of fuel, aid flows

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for an end to rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel and called on Israel to allow urgently a steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian aid to the Strip.

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and southern Israel, and at the potential for further suffering and violence," a statement issued by his spokesperson said. "He calls on all parties to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law."

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported that all crossings into Gaza were closed today, including for fuel and aid workers. It has now been nine days in a row that commercial and humanitarian food deliveries have been kept out of Gaza.

Reiterating his condemnation of rocket attacks, Mr. Ban called for them to end and urged full respect by all parties of the calm that has been in effect since 19 June.

"The Secretary-General is concerned that food and other life-saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people, and emphasizes that measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and should cease immediately," the statement said.

"In particular, he calls on Israel to allow urgently, the steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian assistance. He also calls on Israel to resume facilitating the activities of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and all humanitarian agencies, including through unimpeded access for UN officials and humanitarian workers."

Because the fuel pipelines into the Strip were blocked today, parts of Gaza are now experiencing power cuts of 8 to 12 hours a day, UNSCO said. Among the items that UNRWA is trying to get into Gaza is wool for a rehabilitation centre where blind women knit sweaters.

Yesterday UNRWA was forced to suspend food distributions to half of Gaza's 1.5 million residents as the continued border closures prevented delivery of vital supplies.