Jerusalem - Israel allowed basic humanitarian aid into Gaza for the first time in almost two weeks Monday, but kept its border crossings shut to fuel and non-essential goods as a fragile truce which had largely held for five months further unravelled.
The collapsing Gaza truce overshadowed a meeting between Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.
Gaza militants continued their rocket fire at southern Israel, with at least eight Gaza-made rockets and one mortar shell landing mostly in and near Israeli agricultural communities bordering the strip Monday.
The radical Islamic Jihad faction claimed responsibility for the latest rockets, which brought to at least 135 the number of projectiles launched from Gaza since the truce began disintegrating two weeks ago.
Thirty-three trucks with medical supplies and basic food commodities, including dairy products and meat, crossed through the Kerem Shalom passage between southern Gaza and Israel, an Israeli defence ministry official said.
The majority was earmarked for United Nations humanitarian organizations and the Red Cross, which provide food aid on which about half the Gaza Strip's population of
1.5 million is dependant.
The humanitarian shipment came "despite the rockets which were fired into Israel today," Israeli army spokesman Major Peter Lerner told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
A similar shipment had been scheduled to enter Gaza on Thursday, but was cancelled at the last minute due to a "specific security threat" at the Kerem Shalom crossing, he said. Only a limited amount of fuel was allowed in that day for Gaza's only power plant, he added.
Gaza City has been experiencing electricity blackouts over the past week, after the plant stopped working due to lack of fuel.
Israel "must lift the blockade and allow the entry of fuel, food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the residents," Saeb Erekat, a top Abbas aide, told Voice of Palestine Radio.
Abbas would, in his meeting with Olmert, also protest the incessant Israeli building in the occupied West Bank, he said. An Israeli newspaper reported at the weekend that Defence Minister Ehud Barak approved dozens of construction projects over the past months, mainly in settlement blocks which Israel wants to keep as part of a future peace deal.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni earlier said Israel expected the international community to support its responses to the renewed rocket fire from Gaza.
The European Union over the weekend harshly criticized Israel for closing off the Gaza Strip to fuel and all but the bare minimum of humanitarian aid in response to the rocket attacks.
"Israel cannot just sit by and watch as its citizens are attacked," a statement from her office quoted her as telling visiting British Foreign Secretary David Miliband late Sunday.
The Foreign Press Association (FPA), which represents foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian areas, issued a statement Monday protesting Israel's ban on the entry of journalists into Gaza since last week, calling it "a serious violation of press freedom."
Lerner said the entry ban was part of Israel's policy of allowing in only basic humanitarian aide so long as rocket attacks continued.
The Egyptian-brokered truce has been steadily deteriorating since November 4, when a brief Israeli military incursion aimed at destroying an underground tunnel sparked fierce clashes with local gunmen.
Some 14 Palestinians were killed in those clashes, a confrontation later last week and in an Israeli airstrike Sunday. The fatalities were mostly militants of the radical Islamic Hamas movement ruling Gaza and another faction, the Popular Resistance Committees, but one civilian was also among them.
Hamas slammed Abbas, of the rival Fatah party, for holding the meeting with Olmert. Abbas was being "dictated" by Israel to destroy Hamas, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement sent to the media.
"Abbas has abandoned all national obligations toward his own people and completely adopted Zionist-American designs," he said. (dpa)