UN Urges Extension of Gaza Truce
The UN urged on Thursday an extension of the truce between Israel and Hamas to let humanitarian aid reach Gaza, hours before a three-day ceasefire was due to end.
"The 72-hour-ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions that entered into force on 5 August must continue to hold," James Rawley, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, said in a statement quoted by AFP.
"We need to rapidly scale-up our response to address the needs of the people in Gaza now and in the longer-term, but to do that, we need a sustained halt to the violence," he added.
The three-day truce ending four weeks of bloodshed between Israel and Hamas is due to end at 0500 GMT Friday.
On Wednesday it was reported that Israel had conditionally agreed to extend the ceasefire while Hamas rejected the idea.
On Thursday, a Hamas spokesman declared that Hamas would resume attacking Israel on Friday morning unless Israel agrees to open a sea port in Gaza and “lift the siege”.
The UN statement noted that while some of the 520,000 Gazans displaced during the fighting had returned to their homes, preliminary estimates indicate over 10,000 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged, leaving 65,000 with no home to go back to."
There was also "widespread damage and destruction to basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation networks, electricity supply lines and the Gaza Power Plant, as well as damage to tens of medical facilities and schools," the statement read.
In the past two days, humanitarian workers had been delivering food to "hundreds of thousands of people" and "vital repairs to water and sanitation infrastructure" were underway, it noted.
Rawley called for a "full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip," without which Gazans “will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible."