Humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza as reconstruction efforts begin

Humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza as reconstruction efforts begin

As residents scooped up rubble and continued to take stock of the damage in the Gaza Strip, humanitarian aid arrived in the long impoverished region on Saturday, less than 48 hours after the proclamation of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The United Nations said it had released $ 22.5 million, which would be used to rebuild damaged water and electricity infrastructure and to dispose of explosive ordnance.

“The hostilities have exacerbated the needs of 2 million people in Gaza who have been weakened by 13 years of forced isolation and the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mark Lowcock, the UN emergency relief coordinator in a press release.

More than 77,000 Palestinians have been displaced and have not been able to leave Gaza in the 11 days of fighting that ended Thursday evening, the UN said in a statement. Many have now started to return home, although at least 1,000 people have seen their homes completely destroyed or badly damaged, he added.

Palestinian officials have estimated the reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars.

Egypt, which helped negotiate the truce, said it had sent a convoy of aid trucks carrying food, bedding, medicine and baby milk, President Abdel’s office said. Fattah El-Sissi in a statement.

Despite clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after Friday prayers, the ceasefire appeared to take place on Saturday after fighting that saw Israel shell Gaza with strikes air and artillery. Palestinian militants also fired thousands of rockets at Israel, the country’s military said.

Download the NBC News app for the latest news and politics

Gaza’s health ministry said at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the violence, while Israeli officials said at least 12 people died.

Despite the truce, experts are divided on the possibility of achieving long-term peace.

President Joe Biden said in a White House briefing on Friday that a two-state solution was the only answer to resolving the deep-rooted conflict.

“I pray that this ceasefire will continue,” he said, before pledging US support to help rebuild Gaza, which is ruled by the militant group Hamas – referred to as the organization. terrorist by the United States and Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also due to visit the region “in the coming days,” the State Department said Thursday.

Adi Vaizel examines the damage to his home in Ashkelon, Israel on Thursday after being hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.Amir Cohen / Reuters

Meanwhile in Gaza, as 10-year-old Nadeen Abed al-Lateef stood amid the rubble of her neighborhood, she told NBC News: “It has been scary and terrifying for children like us.”

Across the border in Ashkelon, Israel, Ron Ariely’s home was partially destroyed when it was hit last week by a Hamas rocket. He said it damaged his hearing.

“I heard like a big noise… I can’t even describe it, I hadn’t even heard something like this before,” he said.

Although he hailed the ceasefire, Ariely predicted that another round of violence would never be far away.

“It’s pretty much routine here,” he added.

Richard Engel, Elizabeth kuhr, Erin McLaughlin and Gabe Joselow contributed.