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Israel liable for ‘catastrophic’ situation in Gaza amid Israeli siege, UN told

This picture taken on August 4, 2014 shows a Palestinian woman passes by rescuers inspecting the rubble of destroyed houses following Israeli strikes in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. (By AP)

The UN's Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov has briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis in the blockaded Gaza Strip, blaming the Israeli regime for the deteriorating situation.

Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorentty Soliz said Mladenov told the council behind closed doors Wednesday that drinking water is short, hospitals have been closed and “doctors stopped doing surgeries” in the coastal enclave.

Mladenov, who was briefing the council at the request of Kuwait and Bolivia, further said that Gaza’s 47 percent unemployment rate has surged to 60 percent, three years after Israel’s devastating war on the besieged territory. 

He told the council that the primary responsibility for “the catastrophic situation in Gaza” rests with Israel, according to the Bolivian envoy.

Israel has waged several wars on the Gaza Strip – the last in July 2014 which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians.

The territory of 1.8 million people has been grappling with a humanitarian crisis amid a decade-long Israeli siege which has devastated the economy and reduced humanitarian aid entering the region to a trickle.

The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

US cuts to UNRWA, the UN agency that assists more than half of Gaza’s population, have further complicated the situation.

On January 16, the US State Department announced that Washington would hold back 65 million dollars to UNRWA - more than half its planned contribution this year - and demanded that the agency make unspecified reforms.

In a tweet on January 2, US President Donald Trump said Washington gave the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but got “no appreciation or respect.”

UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1946, one year after the creation of the Israeli regime. More than half of the two million people in the Gaza Strip depend on support from UNRWA or other humanitarian organizations.

The UN agency runs 278 schools in the region attended by some 300,000 Palestinian students.

Earlier this month Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said, President Mahmoud Abbas would address the council on February 20 on the situation of all Palestinians and would ask members to implement UN resolutions “to end the occupation that started in 1967, to allow for the independence of the state of Palestine, and therefore to save the two-state solution.”

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