Israel agreed yesterday to ship diesel fuel and medicine into Gaza on a one-time basis, easing the blockade imposed on the weekend.

The blockade followed a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

Israel and Gaza’s Hamas government were locked in a public relations battle over the depth of the hardship. The UN warned that international food aid could be suspended by the end of the week.

An angry Hamas TV announcer shouted about death and starvation even as Palestinian leaders issued emotional pleas for national unity. For its part, Israel accused Hamas of fabricating a crisis to gain world sympathy.

"We think Hamas got the message," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel in confirming the one-time shipments. "As we have seen in the past couple of days, when they want to stop the rockets, they can."