Agency

CAIRO, July 17 (RIA Novosti) – Israeli authorities have stopped a convoy of trucks carrying UN humanitarian aid to Gaza at Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing near Egypt, Cairo’s MENA news agency said Tuesday.

Under the United Nations World Food Program, vital humanitarian aid has been entering Gaza through the Karem Shalom crossing under an agreement between Israel, the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas to facilitate the movement of supplies.

The small, crowded Gaza Strip is heavily dependent on outside aid, and has been increasingly isolated since Islamist group Hamas’s violent takeover of the enclave last month.

Over 15 trucks carrying sacks with wheat flour destined for Gaza were diverted earlier Tuesday to a warehouse in Egypt, because Israel said no preliminary agreement had been reached with Palestinians, and the drivers had no proper permits, the official Egyptian agency said.

Rafah, another crossing point into Gaza, has been shut since June 9 following the factional fighting between Hamas and loyalists of the Palestinian pro-presidential Fatah movement, which resulted in the Hamas coup.

The World Food Program pledged to deliver 4,376 metric tons of food supplies to impoverished Gaza, and said it had completed 67% of July deliveries so far.

The humanitarian aid body earlier said food supplies to Gaza were not suffering any interruptions, and that a quota of ten trucks a day was being sustained.

In addition, an estimated 5,000 Palestinians are reported to have been stranded in Egyptian towns in northern Sinai near the Egypt-Gaza border, since the border was closed on May 9, and are awaiting Israeli permission to return to their Gaza homes via Israeli territory.

Hamas rejected the idea of letting Palestinians back into Gaza via Kerem Shalom, saying they must be allowed to return through Gaza-Egypt border crossings, which are not controlled by Israel.

International media reports describe stranded Palestinians as living in desperate conditions, with a critical lack of healthcare and food, and with many of the residents starving.