The ban on medicine and medical equipment being allowed into Gaza, as well as ill residents being refused permission to leave, will lead to many more deaths, the health ministry said.

It appealed to the "free and honourable world ... to end its brutal, ugly practices committed day and night in front of the entire international community".

Aid convoy trapped

The statement came as the Miles of Smiles humanitarian convoy remained trapped in Egypt for more than 20 days.

Organisers of the convoy said the delay was due to "stalling of the Egyptian authorities in easing the procedures for the convoy to enter the Strip."

The convoy is made up of more than 100 vehicles carrying humanitarian aid including 275 wheelchairs as well computers for Gazan schools that were destroyed or damaged during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and Januray.

Karen Abu Zeid, the commissioner general of the UNRWA, the UN relief agency, earlier called on the Egyptian authorities to allow the UN mission to use Egypt's Rafah crossing with the occupied territories to pass into Gaza.

In June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed an unprecedented blockade on all crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip.

The blockade has locked in 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The humanitarian situation has deteriorated further since Israel's war on Gaza which left about 1,400 Palestinians – the majority of them civilians - and 13 Israelis dead during the three-week offensive.