THE LEVANT – the crisis in Gaza has affected “virtually every man, woman and child”, according to an appeal set to be launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee tomorrow, the same charity whose appeal the BBC declined to air in 2012.
But all major television networks will broadcast the appeal on Friday, the day that the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is due to expire. Israel has offered to extend the halt in the war that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians so far, 75% of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Israel has lost 67 people, including three civilians.
The appeal comes as Downing Street said a review of arms export licences to Israel will take place, after the Liberal Democrats called for them to be suspended. Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi resigned her post, citing the government’s “morally indefensible” stance on the conflict.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has lambasted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that the “cycle of suffering” has “shocked and shamed the world”. Speaking on Wednesday, the UN chief demanded international help in rebuilding Gaza, a region that former US president Jimmy Carter described as “pulverized” in a recent comment piece for Foreign Policy.
“We will build again, but this must be the last time to rebuild,” Ban told the UN assembly in New York. “This must stop now. They must go back to the negotiating table. We must spare no effort to turn the current calm into a durable cease-fire that addresses the underlying issues of the conflict: ending rocket fire from Gaza, weapons smuggling, opening the (Gaza) crossings, lifting the blockade and bringing Gaza back under one Palestinian government that accepts and adheres to the PLO commitments.”
During the negotiations for a permanent cease-fire, which started in Cairo on Wednesday, the Israeli delegation made clear their demand for Hamas to disarm, a pre-requisite for Tel Aviv if they are to countenance the militant’s request to end the blockade on the Strip, an border closure imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took power in 2007.
The DEC, which brings together 13 leading UK aid charities in “times of crisis”, said half a million people have been forced from their homes, while up to 1.5 million have no access to water, sanitation or medical care.
DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “After four weeks of terrible fighting Gaza is on the edge. Over half a million people have been forced from their homes, and one and a half million people have no or very limited access to water or sanitation.
“Many people are living in terribly overcrowded UN shelters, but they still need food and basic household items which we take for granted. Many are in urgent need of medical care, but hospital supplies are almost finished.
“Even before the conflict began, the people of Gaza were close to breaking point. Now we are seeing a humanitarian emergency affecting virtually every man, woman and child in Gaza. The DEC’s member agencies and their partners are on the ground but they need funds to meet the huge needs.
“They are relying on the generosity of the British people to make a difference in Gaza.”
Although the truce between both sides is only temporary, 11 DEC member agencies are currently supporting work or planning to work inside Gaza, with many “rapidly increasing” their level of assistance.
Some agencies have worked through the fighting despite the considerable risks involved and others have responded when and where lulls in the fighting allow, the DEC said.
So far Oxfam has delivered safe water to up to 175,000 people per day and the British Red Cross partners are supporting emergency medical services.
£25 can buy 150 bandages, £50 can feed five families for a day and £100 can provide an emergency shelter kit and blankets for one family.
To make a donation to the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal visit, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.