There is no safe place in Gaza, a top UN official said Tuesday as the organization reported that 72,000 Palestinians have been displaced as a result of IDF strikes over the last nine days.
“In Gaza, I am deeply troubled by reports of high-frequency Israeli bombardments,” undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said.
“There is no safe place in Gaza, where two million people have been forcibly isolated from the rest of the world for over 13 years,” he said.
Lowcock spoke in the aftermath of nine days of Israeli-Palestinian violence, during which time Hamas barraged Israel with over 3,500 rockets and the IDF launched hundreds of counterstrikes against Hamas targets.
“The indiscriminate launching of rockets by armed groups towards populated areas in Israel is unacceptable and must end,” he said.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that as a result of the IDF strikes, 72,000 Palestinians were displaced, “including 47,000 seeking protection in 58 United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools across Gaza. Another 25,000 displaced people are staying with host families.”
OCHA said that since May 10, some 213 Palestinians, including 62 children and 35 women, have been killed in Gaza during the IDF strikes. It did note Israel’s claim that some of the dead were killed by Hamas rockets that fell short.
On the Israeli side, OCHA said, 10 people, including one soldier, were killed by rocket fire or when running for shelter, adding that hundreds have been injured.
Lowcock called for an end to the violence and for all parties to respect international law.
He called on donor countries to the UN to contribute to the Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinians, noting that $14 million from that fund was set to be released to help those in Gaza. The UN, he said, is preparing to launch a humanitarian appeal.
The UN official also called on Israel to open the main commercial crossing of Kerem Shalom for humanitarian relief. Israel closed that crossing last week in response to the Hamas rockets. The Egyptian crossing at Rafah, however, has been open.
Kerem Shalom briefly opened on Tuesday to allow 24 trucks with humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza, but only five actually made it through before Hamas launched mortars at the crossing, forcing its closure.
Humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings tweeted in response that “attacks by Palestinian militant groups on crossings reported today, where humanitarian supplies [and] personnel were being brought into #Gaza, are unacceptable, preventing vital humanitarian supplies from entering GS. #UN will try again tomorrow. We call for calm to allow us to do so.”
Among the items on the trucks was fuel for Gaza’s power plant, which helps provide electricity to Gaza. A lack of fuel and damage to utility lines have reduced the number of hours of electricity in Gaza from 12 to three or four hours a day, according to OCHA.
Half a million liters of Egyptian imported fuel and medical supplies entered Gaza Tuesday via Egypt through the Saladin Gate.