UN stops Gaza aid after driver shot during ceasefire

The United Nations has said it is halting its aid programme in the Gaza Strip after one of its drivers was killed by Israeli troops during a three-hour ceasefire.

A spokesperson explained that the UN would not resume delivering food aid and medical supplies until it received fresh assurances Israel would stop targeting its civilian contractors.

Israel earlier broke their own three-hour ceasefire by firing on an aid convoy in northern Gaza.

According to the UN one Palestinian aid worker has been killed and several wounded in the attack.

All of the workers involved in the incident at the Erez crossing were civilian contractors, the head of the UN relief agency in Gaza told al-Jazeera.

“They were coordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops,” John Ging said.

“It has resulted tragically in the death of one and the injury of two others.”

Yesterday Israel announced it would cease military operations daily for three hours starting 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT) to allow aid to be distributed to civilians in Gaza.

More than 700 people have died since Israel began air-strikes against Hamas militants at the end of last year.

But aid agencies are warning of the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, where almost one million civilians are now said to be without water.

Amnesty International UK has also accused both sides of using human shields in the conflict.

“Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position,” said Malcolm Smart, the director of human rights group’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

“This clearly increases the risk to the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields.”

The total death-toll of Palestinians includes up to 200 civilians, including scores of children, foreign aid agencies banned from entering Gaza have said.

The United Nations security council is yet to agree on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire due to US reluctance, while Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reacted favourably to the terms of a Franco-Egyptian plan for peace.

But the Israeli cabinet has approved further air-strikes and ground operations in Gaza, with the military action expected to continue overnight and into next week.