Britain pledges $10m in emergency aid to Gaza

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The Independent Online

Britain pledged $10m (£6.9m) of emergency humanitarian aid today for the Gaza Strip, where Israeli air strikes have left hundreds dead and wrought havoc for several days.

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said the money would help provide urgently-needed food and fuel to Palestinians cut off by the offensive launched on Saturday.

"Aid is desperately needed in Gaza," Alexander said in a statement. "The human cost of this conflict is unacceptable and the humanitarian situation is getting worse by the hour. Thousands are suffering."

Medical officials say some 385 Palestinians have been killed and more than 800 wounded since the Israeli offensive began on Saturday. A United Nations agency said at least 62 of the dead were civilians. Four Israelis have been killed.

In Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas group, basic food supplies are running low and power cuts are affecting much of the territory. Hospitals were struggling to cope with the high number of casualties from the offensive.

Alexander said securing a route to the suffering was urgent.

"The limited aid that is getting through cannot be distributed properly because of bombing from the air and rocket attacks launched from inside Gaza. The fighting must stop to enable humanitarian agencies to help people in desperate need," he said.

Israel says it is trying to halt Hamas rocket attacks.

Both sides have so far resisted pressure from foreign powers to halt hostilities but Israeli officials have made clear that a French proposal for a 48-hour truce to allow aid into Gaza had not been rejected outright.