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UN appeals for £2.2bn for Gaza to help Palestinians in desperate need of food and other aid

THE United Nations has appealed for $2.8 billion (£2.2bn) to provide desperately needed aid to three million Palestinians, stressing that tackling looming famine in the devastated Gaza Strip requires not only food but sanitation, water and health facilities.

Andrea De Domenico, the head of the UN humanitarian office for Gaza and the West Bank, told reporters on Tuesday night that massive operations are required to restore those services and meet minimum standards — and this can’t be done during military operations.

He pointed to the destruction of hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, homes, roads and schools by Israeli forces, adding that “there is not a single university that is standing in Gaza.”

Mr De Domenico said Israel’s recently ended so-called military operation at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, was so destructive the facility has been forced to shut down.

As an example, he questioned what the military objective was in shooting an MRI scanner.

He said his team has been dealing with “a scene of terror” at the hospital, with UN and Palestinian colleagues helping people try to recognise family members from shoes or clothes on the remnants of corpses.

Israel promised to open more border crossings into Gaza and increase the flow of aid into Gaza after its military killed seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen who were delivering food into the territory on April 1.

But, as Mr De Domenico pointed out, 41 per cent of UN requests to deliver aid through Israeli checkpoints were denied between April 6 to 12, and last week a convoy from the UN children’s agency Unicef and the UN World Food Programme was caught in crossfire in an area that was supposed to be safe.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations met in Italy today to discuss possible new sanctions on Iran over its strike on Israel at the weekend, retaliation in turn for Israel’s attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, on April 1.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said today that he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, on Tuesday and urged Israel to not only de-escalate any reaction to Iran’s attack but to stave off a planned offensive into the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“I reiterated this message and I believe that on the occasion of the G7 foreign ministers in Capri, tomorrow and Friday morning, a similar message will be sent,” he told reporters.

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