Concerned by the many civilian casualties and the unprecedented scale of destruction in the latest military conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants, a senior United Nations official urged today the international community to “rethink the Gaza paradigm.”
“On World Humanitarian Day, let us put politics aside and focus on the human impact, on the utmost urgency of delivering a new deal for all those affected by the Gaza conflict,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
“The lesson of the last month is that millions of civilians deserve better. We now have an opportunity. Let us seize it,” he said in a statement.
Continuing, he said that UNRWA estimates around 17,000 destroyed or damaged homes, rendering 100,000 people homeless and stressed that Gaza needs a “new deal: recovery and reconstruction.”
Mr. Krähenbühl arrived in Gaza on 16 August to review the situation, while the parties agreed to cease-fire and to continue Egyptian-mediated talks. During his 2-day visit, the UN senior official met with representatives from the National Consensus Government, civil society groups, families of the 11 UNRWA personnel lost during the conflict, and visited some of the agency’s shelters.
“I made my third trip to Gaza since the current round of fighting just a couple of days ago and I was struck by the extent of destruction on a scale unprecedented for Gaza in recent times.”
“We need to rethink the Gaza paradigm that has seen thousands of civilians killed and injured and wreaked so much destruction, in a pattern of violence that erupts every two or three years.”
Mr. Krähenbühl also reiterated his call for respect of international law and lasting peace in the region.
“Gaza must have its freedom; freedom of access, freedom of movement, freedom to import and export, freedom from aid dependency.”