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UN alarmed by escalation between Israel and Palestine

"The casualty count continues to climb on both sides of the conflict, and civilians are suffering," said -- the Geneva spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs () -- at a UN press conference.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 14,2021
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The United Nations expressed its concern on Friday about the escalation between Israel and Palestine, which badly affected people's lives in Gaza's densely populated areas.

"The casualty count continues to climb on both sides of the conflict, and civilians are suffering," said Jens Laerke, Geneva spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at a UN press conference.

"In the Gaza Strip, home to an estimated 2 million Palestinians, hostilities are also having an impact on access to water, sanitation, health care, and the COVID-19 response."

He said extensive damage is reported to civilian properties in densely populated areas all over Gaza, which also borders Egypt, with over 200 housing units destroyed or severely damaged and 24 schools sustaining damage due to airstrikes since May 10.

"Education partners inform us that 31 education facilities, including schools, vocational training centers, and higher education facilities, have been impacted since the start of the escalation," said Laerke.

HALF OF GAZA POPULATION UNDER 18

He noted that half of the nearly 2 million people living in Gaza are under the age of 18.

Laerke said there are reports of hundreds of people, many from refugee camps in Gaza, seeking refuge and shelter in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), especially in the northern part of the strip.

Israeli authorities have closed the Erez crossing in the Gaza Strip's north since May 10, including for humanitarian workers and the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south, which is used to transport goods and fuel.

Given the limited fuel reserves, Gaza's sole power plant operates on only two of its four turbines, resulting in rolling daily power cuts of 8-12 hours.

The North Gaza Seawater Desalination Plant is still not operational, affecting an estimated 250,000 people's access to clean drinking water.

Another 230,000 people from Gaza City and Khan Younis have limited access to piped water due to increasing power cuts and networks damage.

Around 700 meters of wastewater networks in Beit Lahia, Gaza City, and Khan Younis were damaged, resulting in wastewater flows in the streets.

In addition, all fishing activity remains prohibited off the Gaza coast.

"We continue to call for an immediate de-escalation of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, reminding the parties to the conflict of their obligation to protect civilians and allow access for humanitarian groups to safely provide assistance," said Laerke.