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BRUSSELS: Israeli restrictions on fuel supplies to Gaza are hampering aid deliveries and humanitarian access required under an UN resolution, an EU commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said Tuesday.

Lenarcic – who is in charge of crisis management – was speaking as the EU countries and aid organisations scrambled to provide relief to Gaza’s population of 2.3 million under a truce agreed by Israel and Hamas.

“We are calling for the increase of fuel supplies to the (Gaza) strip,” Lenarcic told journalists in Brussels.

“The humanitarian access should be based on the needs and not on some restrictions,” he said.

Hamas and Israel prepare to extend Gaza truce

Much of Gaza’s population has been displaced by Israel’s military action, and the narrow coastal territory’s health system has been brought to its knees, while water, food, medicine and power supplies have been all but exhausted.

Israel launched its war on Hamas in retaliation for October 7 attack on Israeli communities close to Gaza which Israel says killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say the relentless Israeli bombing and ground offensive has killed 15,000 people, thousands of them children.

Lenarcic said aid deliveries to Gaza were encountering two bottlenecks.

One is that trucks needing to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt – the only entry not giving onto Israeli territory – had to undergo screening at a point 90 minutes’ drive away.

The other is that Israel is allowing only restricted amounts of fuel to go into Gaza which are “still not sufficient for the needs” of the territory.

The EU commissioner said Brussels is calling for increased truck screening capacity, and for more fuel to be allowed in.

The fuel, he noted, was essential for humanitarian operations, hospitals, water stations, desalination plants, water pumps and bakeries.

“The quantities that are for the moment entering daily are not enough for all this,” he said.

Lenarcic stressed that a UN Security Council resolution adopted November 16 was binding on all parties, requiring them to allow “unimpeded access” for food, water, medicine, fuel and other necessary items to reach Gaza.

He also said international humanitarian law was not being respected by Hamas or, it appeared, Israel.

Hamas’s October 7 murderous attack and hostage-taking was a clear violation, he said, while “I would find it difficult to argue that this criteria of military action and proportionality are being respected for 15,000-plus civilians killed in 50-plus days”.

But he said “ultimate judgement is up to judicial authorities,” pointing to the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor’s office is gathering evidence of alleged crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank.

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