Arab League warns of 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Gaza

CAIRO (AFP) — The Arab League on Saturday warned of an "unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip after the United Nations was forced to suspend aid deliveries because of Israeli restrictions.

The 22-member body expressed its "grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip after the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was forced to stop delivering aid," Hisham Yussef, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa's chief of staff, said in a statement.

"These circumstances, as well as the Israeli armed forces' continued military action against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, will lead to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe for which the Israeli government will have to bear responsibility," Yussef said.

He said the Israeli blockade on Gaza, as well as military operations and the halting of fuel supplies to the impoverished territory, is "unacceptable and silence over the issue cannot continue."

Yussef urged international bodies including the United Nations and the European Union to "exert pressure on Israel to accept its responsibility in applying interntional law."

The United Nations stopped distributing aid to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after running out of fuel as the Israeli terminal that supplies the besieged Palestinian territory remained shut.

Humanitarian agencies say Gaza, one of the world's most densely populated territories with 1.5 million people living on a narrow sliver of land, is on the brink of disaster.