UN humanitarian aid chief tours Gaza to assess damage, presses both sides

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: May 22, 2021, 07:22 PM(IST)

Lynn Hastings, the Head of the humanitarian operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, visits Gaza City May 22, 2021 Photograph:( Reuters )

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She stopped to talk to survivors on heavily damaged Wehda Street (Unity Street), where Palestinian health officials said 42 people had been killed, including 22 members of one family, during the Israeli air strikes

Top United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories Lynn Hastings observed situation in airstrike-hit Gaza and appealed both sides to observe ceasefire. Aid teams are currently assessing damage in rubble-strewn Gaza that has taken a lot of beating in the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire between both sides began early on Friday (May 21).

"Last night was calm, and we hope obviously that it is going to hold and everybody just needs to stand down and not to engage in any provocative moves," Lynn Hastings, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said in Gaza City.

Hastings stopped to talk to survivors on heavily damaged Wehda Street (Unity Street), where Palestinian health officials said 42 people had been killed, including 22 members of one family, during the Israeli air strikes.

"All my ideas and dreams have ended. I have no more hopes in life," Riyad Eshkuntana, who lost his wife and four of his five children, told Hastings. "Under the rubble, my children were screaming, and I heard them. Their voices stopped one after another."

Israel has maintained that its airstrike was targetting the Hamas underground tunnel network and civilians were not the target.

Standing by the rubble of residential buildings, Hastings said she had seen more than just damaged infrastructure.

"I have been speaking to the families here and what they all said is that they have no hope, they feel that they have no control of their lives and their situation is, one woman said, helpless," she told Reuters.

Also Read | Ceasefire between Israel and Gaza holds as Egyptian mediators eye long-term peace

US President Joe Biden has said Washington will work with U.N. agencies on expediting humanitarian aid for Gaza "in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal".

Hastings said suitable mechanisms were already in place and had been active since a war in 2014.

She cited the "Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism" agreed among Israel, the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas, a Hamas rival who governs the occupied West Bank but has negligible influence within Gaza.

(With inputs from agencies)

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