UN warns of ‘dramatic deterioration’ in Gaza

Israeli regime tightened its decade-long blockade and intensified movement restrictions

United Nations: The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories has called for urgent measures to prevent an already critical humanitarian situation in Gaza from getting worse, after the Israeli regime tightened its decade-long blockade and intensified restrictions on movement.

“As events over the weekend demonstrate, the situation in Gaza is extremely precarious,” Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said following a visit to the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

“I am deeply concerned about the imposition of further restrictions at Kerem Shalom, which is the lifeline for Gaza’s population,” he added, referring to the key border post with Israel.

“Should they continue, these additional restrictions risk triggering a dramatic deterioration in an already fragile situation and desperate humanitarian conditions, particularly for the health sector,” McGoldrick, who is also the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said.

On July 9, Israel imposed new restrictions on goods going into Gaza, tightening them further on Monday, to prohibit all goods except medical and food supplies. Fishing along the Gaza coast was also limited to just three nautical miles offshore.

Particularly worrying is the impact that shortfalls in fuel will have on providing critical water, hygiene and sanitation services in Gaza, which depend on donor-funded emergency fuel to power backup generators, according to the UN humanitarian affairs office for the Palestinian Territory (OCHA).

Currently, water and sanitation facilities have only a 7- to 10-day supply, while health facilities have less than seven days of emergency fuel supplies.

“These developments come against the backdrop of a worrying escalation in hostilities in recent days,” said OCHA, with “some 15,000 Palestinian injuries since March 30 in the context of demonstrations; a health system on the verge of collapse; and an 11-year humanitarian crisis created by an Israeli blockade that has raised concerns over collective punishment and an internal Palestinian political divide.”

At present, the humanitarian funding appeal for the Occupied Territories, 70 per cent of which targets Gaza, is only 23 per cent funded. Moreover, $4.5 million (Dh16.5 million) is urgently needed for emergency fuel, which runs out in early August.

“We are steps away from a disastrous deterioration, with potential broad impacts not only on Palestinians in Gaza, but the region,” McGoldrick said. “Everyone with the ability to improve the situation must take a step back, prevent further escalation and reduce the suffering of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza.”

The UN spokesperson said on Tuesday that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) was implementing various schemes to help boost employment opportunities and mitigate the harsh socioeconomic conditions in Gaza.

First, over a 12-month period, UNDP will create more than 2,500 immediate and short-term jobs, directly benefiting nearly 3,000 people, with the aim of women filling 40 per cent of the jobs. Second, a recently launched rapid employment scheme is offering short- to medium-term employment opportunities to some 1,500 young men and women, including persons with disabilities.


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