Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the border as fuel tankers enter Gaza through the Rafah border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip June 21, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United Nations on Thursday gave Gaza $2.5 million in humanitarian aid to help with their water and fuel crisis.
The funds come as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to gradually cut funding to Gaza if Hamas fails to allow Fatah to return to the Strip.
Some 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza have been hostage for the last four months to the power play between Fatah and Hamas, as Abbas seek to regain control of the Strip 10 years after Hamas ousted his party in a bloody coup.
In July the UN issued an urgent appeal for $25 million, but to date only 30% of that sum has bene funded.
There is a “serious decline in living conditions in Gaza continues” said UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper. “The humanitarian plight and the human rights of Gaza’s civilian population - over half of them children – appear to have disappeared from view” he added.
Some of the UN funds will pay for fuel for the generators that are helping run 190 health, water and sanitation installations.
It will also provide for medical equipment and supplies, solar panels, cash assistance and agriculture supplies.
The Palestinians in Gaza have suffered in particular from an electricity crisis in which they are surviving on only about four hours of power a day. Israel has reduced its supply of electricity to Gaza at the request of the Palestinian Authority, who said it only planned to pay a small portion of the bill.
The PA also imposed an onerous tax on the diesel fuel needed to run Gaza only power plant, as a result it has only been operational for intermittent periods.
“The Gaza strip is into its fourth month of a serious energy crisis. Power supply to households and services has barely covered 25% of needs over the last 6 weeks. Hospitals and other facilities are operating almost 24/7 on generators that are not designed for continuous use in this way. The last bulk shipment of essential drugs from the West Bank was in March 2017; an estimated 40% of essential drugs are at zero stock. There is a large backlog of patients requiring urgent medical referral to hospitals outside the Strip,” the UN said in a statement it issued on the funding.
The $2.5 million came Euoprean countries who had donated to the Humanitarian Fund run by the Office for Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territories. Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey were among the donor countries.
On Tuesday Miroslav Jenca, the UN’s Assistant Secretary General spoke of the Gaza Crisis before the UN Security Council in New York.
“I call on Palestinian leaders to address the destructive consequences of the divisions. I encourage them to reach agreement that would allow the legitimate Palestinian authorities to take up their responsibilities in Gaza, as a step towards the formation of a united, democratically elected Palestinian government on the basis of the PLO principles,” Jenca asid.
Hamas must also ensure that calm is maintained by stopping militant buildup against Israel and by doing its utmost to sustain security at the border with Egypt. Israel should step-up measures to lift the closures and facilitate development in Gaza as overall calm persists in the Strip, in line with Security Council resolution 1860,” Jencal said.
She then urged donor countries to contribute to the Gaza appeal.