Thursday Jul 31, 201406:05 PM GMT
Gaza situation is extreme: UN officials

Senior UN officials have told the Security Council the situation in the Gaza Strip is extreme, calling for an immediate action to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged enclave.

Valerie Amos, the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said on Thursday that 24 days of conflict in Gaza has exacerbated the situation in the Palestinian territory.

“Some 440,000 people have been displaced, almost 24 of the population, and over 240,000 are housed in UN-run facilities while others seek refuge wherever they can, in government buildings or hospital grounds,” Amos said.

She also noted that hospitals, clinics and UN facilities came under attack in Gaza, including a UN-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza that left 20 people dead. The school was sheltering thousands of Palestinian refugees.

“The reality of Gaza today is that no place is safe” the UN official also said, noting that the international body has also lost seven staff since the outbreak of the Israeli offensive.

Amos further asked UN member states for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Philippe Krahenbuhl, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, also told the Security Council that Gazans were "facing a precipice.”

"It is past time for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as called for by the Council.  The illegal blockade of Gaza must be lifted," he added.

Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip since July 8. Israeli forces also began a ground offensive against the impoverished Palestinian land on July 17.

More than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed and thousands of others injured by Israel’s offensive.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has been launching retaliatory attacks against Israel.

Israeli sources have confirmed the deaths of 56 soldiers. However, Hamas says the toll is much higher.

SAB/AB

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