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Abbas Declares Gaza a 'Humanitarian Disaster Area'

PA Chairman urges UN to adopt the necessary measures for declaring Gaza a disaster area.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/31/2014, 3:14 AM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday proclaimed Gaza a “humanitarian disaster area”, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA reported.

According to the report, Abbas sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on him to adopt the necessary measures for declaring the Strip a disaster area and urging the international community to shoulder its responsibility in this regard.

"The UN and its affiliate agencies must meet the urgent needs of our people in Gaza and provide them with relief aid," the message said, according to the report.

"The brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza resulted in a humanitarian emergency and suffering for countless numbers of people,” Abbas wrote Ban.

"Therefore, I decided to declare the region a humanitarian disaster area and I call upon you to shoulder your responsibility in this regard as per the provisions of the UN Charter, particularly Article No. 99," he added.

Abbas reportedly called on Ban to use all means at his disposal as UN chief to provide urgent aid to, and protection for, the residents of Gaza.

He also called for opening lifelines and establishing safe havens for the civilians displaced in Gaza in order to provide them with safe food, water and medicines.

Abbas’s letter came as the Israeli government agreed to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire on Wednesday afternoon.

Hamas took advantage of the ceasefire to fire a salvo of rockets at communities in southern Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over Israeli population centers, while several others struck in open areas.

The PA Chairman has previously vowed to pursue Israel over its self-defense operation in Gaza.

He claimed that Israel has violated all the international laws in its operation in Gaza, stressing that "we will pursue the perpetrators of the crimes against our people, until they are punished."

At one point, Abbas encouraged Hamas to accept internationally-brokered ceasefire efforts - if not in the name of Palestinian Arab unity, then at least specifically to hurt Israel