Arab League condemns Israel's siege on Gaza, demands urgent aid access

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Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday denounced Israel’s siege of Gaza following the shock attack by Palestinian militants on Israel, demanding that aid be “immediately” allowed to enter the blockaded enclave.

Israel has imposed a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip, cutting off the water supply, food, electricity and other essential supplies, after Saturday’s massive assault by Hamas militants that has killed hundreds on both sides.

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On Wednesday, as Israel kept up its bombardment of targets in the crowded and impoverished coastal enclave for a fifth day, the only power plant in Gaza shut down.

The Palestinian enclave’s electricity authority made the announcement saying the plant had run out of fuel.

Meeting at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers discussed the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and demanded Israel lift its siege of Gaza.

They also called for the “immediate” dispatch of food, fuel and humanitarian aid to the impoverished and densely populated coastal enclave.

The Arab foreign ministers also urged Israel to reconsider its “unjust decision to cut electricity supply and water to Gaza”.

They concluded their emergency their meeting by affirming the importance of Israel’s fulfillment of the international law obligations as an occupying power for the Palestinians.

Five days of relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israel in retaliation for the brutal assault on Israeli communities across the border have left the tiny territory in tatters.

Air strikes have struck residential buildings, mosques, factories and shops, said Salama Marouf of the Gaza government’s media office.

Medical supplies, including oxygen, were running low at Gaza’s overwhelmed Al-Shifa hospital, said emergency room physician Mohammed Ghonim.

Israel has reported a “staggering” 1,200 deaths since Saturday’s onslaught by the militants while Gaza officials speak of more than 1,000 people killed in Israel air and artillery strikes.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with 2.3 million people living on a 362-square-kilometre (140-square-mile) strip of land.

It has been under Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas took control of the territory from the secular Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The only entrance to Gaza not controlled by Israel is Rafah on the Egyptian border.

Rafah has been bombarded by Israel three times this week.

With agencies

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