The ongoing closure of crossings in and out of Gaza - which has a population of some 1.4 million people - is "both a physical as well as a mental punishment of the population," according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The closures have led to a prolonged humanitarian crisis in the territory, despite the continuing calm between Gaza and southern Israel. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has also voiced concern about the situation there, noting that food prices are increasing due to limited stocks.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported that the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines were briefly reopened today.
As a result, Gaza's power plant was able to get industrial gas. However, no other types of fuel, including petrol, diesel and cooking gas, were allowed in.
The fuel shortage is constraining water and sewage services and causing blackouts in Gaza, according to UN humanitarian agencies working to alleviate the plight of the affected population.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today repeated his concern at the "distressing conditions" in Gaza, during a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
"I call on Israel to ease the severe closure of Gaza by allowing sufficient and predictable supplies to reach the population, ensuring access for humanitarian workers, and facilitating stalled UN projects," Mr. Ban stated.
The Secretary-General has noted that the closures and the establishment of roadblocks, as well as ongoing settlement issues and the demolition of houses, do not help the ongoing peace process, a point he stressed on Sunday following a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with the other members of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, which also includes Russia, the United States and the European Union.