JERUSALEM: The U.N. urged 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 Aug. 5 must continue to hold,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories James Rawley said in a statement.
“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,” Rawley said in a statement.
The three-day truce ending four weeks of bloodshed between Israel and Hamas, in which 1,886 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side were killed, was due to end at 0500 GMT Friday.
Fears were rising Thursday evening that fighting could resume after the sides failed to reach an agreement to continue the ceasefire, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of “procrastinating” and Hamas threatening to renew its attacks if no deal was reached.
The UN statement noted that while some of the 520,000 Palestinians 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 Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible.”