Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Woks Agency (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl is set to announce the need for “$47m in the next four weeks” to help make conditions in Gaza “just about bearable” pending full reconstruction.
According to a copy of Krähenbühl’s speech, which is due to be delivered before the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers Sunday, Krähenbühl is expected to discuss UNRWA efforts in the Gaza Strip. These efforts will focus on repairing thousands of homes and schools, giving cash support to families, counseling traumatised individuals, providing employment opportunities and restoring some infrastructure like water systems.
Krähenbühl will discuss the “crying need for financial support,” without which, “not only will the already severe suffering of many thousands continue, but it will be impossible to restore any semblance of [a] healthy economic life, and thus human security and stability, to Gaza”.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently on a three day visit in Egypt, told Egyptian reporters on Saturday that the conflict left 2,149 dead, including 942 women and children. The number of people left injured in the densely populated strip exceeds 11,000, including 5,800 women and children.
Abbas said “massacres have been carried out against 91 families, annihilating them. They no longer exist in the civil registry”.
The death toll includes 12 UNRWA staff and 40 who died in shelling of UNRWA schools, where hundreds of thousands of Gazans have sought shelter during the raging conflict. Krähenbühl is expected say that these attacks as a “source of universal shame” adding: “Nothing justified or could imaginably justify Israel’s shelling of UN premises being used as civilian shelters, all of which has repeatedly been duly notified precisely to ensure that they would be preserved.”
The commissioner general is expected to say that this conflict is “five times worse” than the one in 2009, in terms of displaced and houses damaged. Abbas said the conflict left 18,000 homes completely destroyed and 41,000 partially destroyed. He added that over 461,000 have been displaced.
Krähenbühl will talk about the need to work with various parties to “work out a long term plan for Gaza recovery and reconstruction” and to be able “to bring essential building materials into Gaza”. The Gaza Strip has been under siege since Hamas’s takeover in 2007 and Israel does not allow the entry of construction materials into the strip.
The commissioner general is also expected to say that “Palestinians are not statistics” and that there it is time to change the paradigm in Gaza and the West Bank and to address the “underlying causes of the conflict and the occupation”.
“It is therefore inconceivable that the current ceasefire—as important and vital as it is—would be the only outcome after this deadly conflict and that the situation would be allowed to return to the preexisting conditions under the blockade, which has rendered conditions in Gaza untenable and unlivable,” the copy of Krähenbühl’s speech states. He is set to call for both lifting the blockade and an end of rocket fire into Israel.
The conflict in Gaza began on 7 July and ended with an open ended ceasefire agreement between Palestinian factions and Israel on 26 August.
Israel launched the military operation titled “Protective Edge” with the aim of stopping “Hamas rocket fire into Israel”. It drastically escalated on 17 July when Israel launched a ground operation.