Israeli Forces Raid Gaza as Pressure Builds for Cease-Fire


“The siege means that food, water and fuel — basic commodities — are being used to collectively punish more than two million people, among them, a majority of children and women,” Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency providing aid in Gaza, said on Friday.

“We should avoid conveying the message that a few trucks a day means the siege is lifted for humanitarian aid,” he added at a news conference in Jerusalem, according to a transcript released by the agency. “It is not. The current system in place is geared to fail.”

A U.N.-led agreement has allowed some aid trucks into Gaza at the city of Rafah, along the border with Egypt, slightly easing the blockade. But in the first week of the agreement, only 84 trucks made the crossing, with hundreds more waiting on the Egyptian side, so water, food, electricity and medical supplies remain in critically short supply.

Israel insists on thoroughly inspecting every truckload for weapons, rather than trusting U.N. inspections. Aid agencies say that and disorganization by the Egyptian authorities have slowed things down drastically.

Many humanitarian efforts in Gaza are hobbled by lack of fuel, but Israel has refused to allow fuel deliveries, which it says would help Hamas.

The Israeli military said earlier on Friday that it had sent troops into Gaza, backed by aerial drones and warplanes, in a raid that “struck dozens of terror targets” in central Gaza belonging to Hamas. Admiral Hagari said the raid had begun “in the light of day” on Thursday and had “ended successfully in the morning hours” on Friday with no casualties.

American officials have urged Israel to delay any invasion to give time for hostage negotiations and for the United States to better protect its forces in the Middle East. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated this week that an invasion was likely.

On Thursday, the leaders of the 27 European Union countries issued a joint statement calling for pauses in the fighting “for humanitarian needs.”

On Friday the U.N. General Assembly voted 120 to 14, with the United States and Israel in the minority, to approve a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. Several of the countries closest to the United States were among 45 that abstained.

As Israel pummels Gaza, Hamas and its allies have continued firing rockets at Israel, including barrages on Friday that caused minor damage and a handful of injuries.

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