Sunday, April 14, 2024

Humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza


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Tel Aviv – The first convoys of humanitarian aid have arrived in Gaza, hours after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants came into effect.

Thousands of Palestinians returned home to scenes of devastation with officials saying reconstruction might take years.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) called for the creation of corridors for injured people to be evacuated.

More than 250 people were killed in the 11-day conflict, most of them in Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas claimed victory.

In southern Israel, residents celebrated the truce but many expressed concern that another conflict in the region was just a matter of time.

Trucks from various aid agencies, including those affiliated with the United Nations, started bringing much-needed medicine, food and fuel into Gaza, after Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing.

More than 100 000 people had to flee their homes in the territory, which is controlled by the militant group Hamas, and nearly 800 000 people did not have access to piped water, the UN children’s agency Unicef said.

Palestinian officials say tens of millions of dollars will be needed to rebuild the already impoverished enclave that is also suffering with COVID-19.

Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the WHO, called for immediate access for health supplies and personnel, saying the territory’s health facilities risked being overwhelmed by thousands of injuries.

For years, Gaza has been subjected to Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on the passage of people and goods, with both countries citing concerns about weapons reaching Hamas.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unwra) said its priority was to identify and help tens of thousands of displaced people, and that it was urgently seeking $38m (£26m) in aid.

On Thursday, Gaza’s housing ministry said 1 800 housing units were unfit for living and 1 000 had been destroyed.

“The damage inflicted in less than two weeks will take years, if not decades, to rebuild,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the Middle East director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Samira Abdallah Nasser, said her two-storey house near Beit Hanoun was hit by a blast during the fighting, reducing it to ruins.

“We’re back to our homes and we don’t have a place to sit, we don’t have water, we don’t have electricity, we don’t have beds, we don’t have anything,” she told Reuters news agency. “We’re back to our fully destroyed homes.”

Another resident, Azhar Nsair, told the Associated Press news agency: “We see such huge destruction here, it’s the first time in history we’ve seen this.”



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