Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said on Sunday that “the layers of difficulty in Gaza keep getting thicker” because the very base of the conflict was not addressed.
Lazzarini pledged to urge the international community to tackle the “root causes of conflict, occupation, displacement, of which we have had a strong reminder in East Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah, the blockade and the cycle of violence – this sense of normalcy will be a mirage until the next conflict.
Calling on the international community to fund UNRWA’s efforts to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinians, Lazzarini said his main mission after leaving Gaza will be “to ensure that stability remains in the lives of Palestinian refugees in Gaza through a strong UNRWA ”.
He also expressed his deep frustration at “the senseless episode of extreme violence that killed civilians, destroyed infrastructure and sent Gaza back for years.”
The commissioner general was speaking alongside Lynn Hastings, the humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, who urged Hamas and Israel to adhere to the ceasefire.
“I reiterate the Secretary-General’s appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to revitalize a serious dialogue in order to achieve a just and lasting solution for all,” Hastings said.
Tensions escalated in the Palestinian territories last month following the verdict of an Israeli court to forcibly evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem for the benefit of groups of settlers.
The situation ignited after Israeli forces attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted worshipers inside.
The tension spread to the Gaza Strip as Israel launched airstrikes that killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, and injured more than 1,900 others. Health officials in the occupied West Bank have separately confirmed 31 fatalities in that region, bringing the total to 279 across all Palestinian territories. Israel said it launched a bombing campaign in Gaza following rocket attacks by Palestinian factions.
On the Israeli side, 12 people were killed, including two children, in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The fiercest fighting in years ended Friday under a ceasefire brokered by Egypt.