A Palestinian child stands among the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli attacks in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on May 21, 2021.
- WHO says Palestine has been left with serious health needs.
- This comes after a bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in May.
- The WHO says about 200,000 people need assistance.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned of “shocking health needs” in the occupied Palestinian territories following last month’s conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas.
“WHO is increasing its response to provide health assistance to approximately 200 000 people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT),” which includes the West Bank, the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office said in a statement.
“The situation is unstable. WHO is concerned … and calls for unhindered access to humanitarian and development-related essential supplies and staff in Gaza and the referral of patients from Gaza,” warned WHO’s Rick Pepperkorn.
Tensions between Israel and Palestinians turned disastrous in an 11-day exchange of rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes last month.
Officials there say 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the Israeli attack, as well as some fighters.
In Israel, 12 people, including a child, a teenager and an Israeli soldier, were killed in the firing by Palestinian extremists.
timeline | Deadly conflict in Gaza and Jerusalem
“More than 77000 people have been internally displaced and about 30 health facilities have been damaged,” the WHO statement said.
Israel has imposed a land and sea blockade on Gaza, home to nearly two million Palestinians, since Hamas captured the impoverished and densely populated region in 2007.
Egypt’s heavily guarded Rafa crossing is Gaza’s only route to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel.
“The lives of Palestinians are deteriorating, many people affected by the conflict need immediate assistance and are facing other health threats such as COVID-19,” Pepperkorn said.
The global health body said that as of May 31, “there have been 337,191 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 3,765 deaths in OPT, with positive cases increasing in Gaza in recent weeks”.
It said last month it appealed for $7 million to help ramp up its health operations in the Palestinian territories, but received only $2.3 million.
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