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About 40 percent of UN-coordinated aid missions in Gaza denied or impeded by Israel last month, agency says

From CNN's Kareem Khadder and Hande Atay Alam

Almost 40 percent of aid missions coordinated by the United Nations were denied or impeded by Israel last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Wednesday.

In February, 86 of the 222 missions — 39 percent of them — in areas that needed coordination were denied or impeded by Israel, OCHA said.

There was a 48 percent increase in the overall number of coordinated humanitarian missions facilitated by Israeli authorities across Gaza in February compared to January, OCHA said — but their effectiveness “was undermined by a cessation in operations to the north, and an overall decline in the security of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers.”

Decrease in security: The decline in effectiveness was mainly due to the “diminished presence of local police, following a spate of attacks by Israeli forces that led to police casualties,” OCHA said, adding the breakdown of law and order causes major limits to move aid. The Israeli army’s stance viewing Palestinian police forces as combatants “further complicates the efforts to restore law and order,” OCHA said. The lack of order has caused an increase in violence targeting humanitarian workers, it added.

Border crossings: Frequent and prolonged closures and blockages at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana crossings have also hampered the cross-border movement of humanitarian cargo, OCHA said. This includes 16 different times where crossing was inaccessible through Kerem Shalom and 10 at Nitzana because of protests and security issues, it said. Some Israelis have been blocking trucks at the crossings, saying no aid should get into Gaza while hostages are being held there.

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