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LONDON: A truck loaded with humanitarian supplies destined for Gaza was turned away by Israeli authorities because of scissors packed inside medical kits, the head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency, accused Israel of withholding essential medical supplies. He said the army has imposed restrictions on items such as anesthesia medications and water-purification tablets, on the grounds that they are potentially “dual-use” items that might be repurposed for military use.

Aid organizations have voiced similar concerns about the refusal of Israeli authorities to allow dates, traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during Ramadan, into the territory.

“The clearance of humanitarian supplies and the delivery of basic and critical items need to be facilitated and accelerated,” Lazzarini said. “The lives of 2 million people depend on that. There is no time to waste.”

Israeli authorities denied the incident involving the medical scissors took place. In a message posted on social media, they said: “Lying is a sign of desperation.”

Meanwhile, a ship belonging to the Spanish charity Open Arms set sail from Cyprus on Tuesday bound for the Gaza Strip, carrying 200 tonnes of food aid. The shipment, expected to arrive at the territory in two to three days, is the first test of a newly established maritime aid-delivery mechanism.
 

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