Italy, Britain call for aid to flow again to Gaza

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Italy and Britain on Monday called for aid to begin flowing to Gaza again, as regional tensions mounted over Israel's deadly raid on an aid convoy last week.

"The situation in the Gaza Strip is becoming untenable," Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a joint new conference with his British counterpart William Hague.

"We have said that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable. It's very important that we arrive at a new arrangement whereby aid can flow to Gaza," Hague said.

Israel slapped a crippling blockade on the tiny Palestinian territory in 2007 after Hamas -- an Islamist movement which calls for the destruction of Israel -- seized power.

It has cut Gaza off from all but vital humanitarian aid in a bid to pressure Hamas to end rocket attacks on the south of the Jewish state.

Both Frattini and Hague stressed that lifting the blockade should be coordinated by the Middle East Quartet of diplomatic powers to guarantee Israel's security, preventing the smuggling of weapons to Gaza.

The Quartet, made up of the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States, is seeking a resolution to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Frattini and Hague also called again for international observers to take part in an Israeli probe into last Monday's raid, in which nine activists were killed.

"There should be an investigation, an inquiry into the events of a week ago with an international presence," Hague said.

© 2010 AFP

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