TEHRAN, July 15 (MNA) – Senior UN Humanitarian officials have visited Gaza Strip, after which they have called for a halt to Israeli offensive.
“We must once again remind all parties that they must strictly adhere to international humanitarian law,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, James Rawley, said alongside the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl.
He noted the need to fully respect the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants, proportionality, and taking precautions to avoid civilian casualties.
At least 174 people in Gaza have been killed and over 1,100 wounded as of Monday, according to figures cited by Mr. Krähenbühl, who expressed particular concern about the numbers of women, children and people with disabilities among the reported victims.
“Never will even the most impressive television footage properly capture the depth of fear and despair felt in the homes and hearts of Gazans who are yet again facing death, devastation and displacement,” the head of UNRWA said.
The UN agency has now declared an emergency for operations in all five of its areas in Gaza, with approximately 17,000 refugees seeking refuge in its 20 schools.
“Some [are] being displaced to the very same classrooms for the third time in five years,” said Mr. Krähenbühl, after a visit to one of the shelters.
At least 33 children were killed in Gaza in recent days; the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported yesterday, highlighting the negative impact violence has on children both physically and psychologically. “Too often children who witness such violence, and come to view it as ‘normal’, are likely to repeat it themselves in later life.”
Rawley said the team has had “a small glimpse” of the destruction incurred so far and it includes damage to 66 schools and over 940 homes, as well as losses to the health, education, water and sanitation facilities, and the electricity infrastructure.
Both UN officials echoed the calls of the Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who, among others in recent days, have called for all parties to respect international law, and protect civilians.
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