Ban appeals for $613 million for Gaza

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has appealed for $613 million to meet the "massive" needs of Gazans hit by Israel's 22-day war in Gaza. During a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out.


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AFP - The United Nations will launch a 613 million dollar appeal to meet the "massive" needs of those hit by Israel's 22-day war in Gaza, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday.

The money is needed to provided to provide food, water, shelter, health care and other assistance after the conflict which left at least 1,300 dead and caused widespread destruction in the Palestinian territory, UN officials said.

"These needs are massive and multi-faceted," Ban told a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that the money could "help overcome at least some measures of this hardship."


Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-winger tipped to become Israel's prime minister in a looming election, was also at Davos and accused the Palestinian militant group Hamas of pursuing "terror efforts" despite a fragile ceasefire.

"We'll deal with it," the Likud party leader told reporters on the sidelines of the forum when asked about the latest Israeli air attacks against Gaza and new rocket attacks into Israel.

"Regrettably we see that Hamas continues its terror efforts," said Netanyahu, whose party has a wide lead in opinion polls ahead of the February 10 parliamentary election.

"Clearly, Hamas is committed to continuing its fanatical mission of destroying Israel," he added signalling that he favoured a tough line against the Islamist party which rules Gaza.

UN agencies have been critical of Israel's conduct during the conflict and Ban and John Holmes, who heads the UN Office for th

e Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), called for Israel to end its blockade of the Palestinian territory of 1.5 million people to allow in humanitarian assistance.

"We're asking for the crossing points to be opened fully.... Otherwise, we won't be able to achieve what we want to achieve," said Holmes.

Israel declared a ceasefire on January 18, but Israeli forces launched an air strike on Thursday on a Gaza border area near Egypt after Palestinian militants fired a missile.

Ban said the Israeli strike demonstrated that the "ceasefire is very fragile" and that it made it more necessary than ever to "make this ceasefire a durable one."

Israel's war on Gaza killed 1,330 people, at least half of them civilians, and wounded 5,450 others, Palestinian medics said Thursday.

Among the dead were 437 children under 16, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists, according to Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza medical services.

The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition, he said. Six hundred injured people have been transferred outside Gaza for treatment.

Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead against Gaza on December 27 in response to rocket fire from the territory.

On the Israeli side, three civilians and 10 soldiers died in combat and rocket strikes and dozens were wounded, according to official figures.

Official Palestinian figures show that Israel's offensive flattened around 4,000 houses as well as 48 government offices and buildings, 30 police stations and 20 mosques.

The extensive list also catalogues damage to roads, schools, the electricity grid and the water network.

In total, some 14 percent of all the buildings in the battered territory have been either damaged or destroyed.



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