World Bulletin / News Desk
British Minister for the Middle East Hugh Robertson regretted on Thursday the deteriorating situation suffered by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
"It is profoundly disappointing that the living conditions for the 1.7 million civilians inside Gaza have, if anything, deteriorated," Robertson said in a press statement issued by the British Consulate in Jerusalem.
"Severe restrictions on the import and export of goods and passenger traffic are triggering yet higher levels of unemployment and poverty. Gaza is without power for 16 hours a day," he asserted.
The British officials urged Egyptian authorities "to ensure that the efforts to shut down smuggling tunnels are accompanied by equally determined efforts to open up legal trade and movement for the people of Gaza."
"The needs and rights of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza must be protected as must the legitimate security concerns of Israel and Egypt."
Egypt on Wednesday reopened the Rafah border crossing linking the Gaza Strip to the Sinai Peninsula for two days following a six-day closure.
For three days last week, Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing, which – thanks to a seven-year Israeli embargo – represents Gaza's only means of accessing the outside world.
Since the army's July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have tightened their grip on Egypt's border with the Hamas-run enclave.
The Egyptian army, meanwhile, has launched a wide-range campaign to destroy the network of underground tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, which in recent years have been used to smuggle desperately-needed goods into the embattled Palestinian territory.Last Mod: 29 Kasım 2013, 11:43