On 27 May the UN Humanitarian Coordinator of the occupied Palestinian territory, Lynn Hastings, launched an emergency response plan which requires $95 million to address the needs of 1.1 million Palestinians over the coming three months. She said:
We must be able to implement our support plan fully. The generous support of our donor partners from all regions is essential, as is unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel and provision to those in need. We must all do our part.
The escalation has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, generated by nearly 14 years of blockade and internal political divisions, alongside recurrent hostilities. We must also ensure support to continue addressing needs that already existed, including those arising from the ongoing pandemic.
Ultimately, for our support to be effective, we must exert every possible effort to ensure that this tragedy is not repeated. The ceasefire must be solidified with all avoiding provocation. Those violating international humanitarian law must be held accountable. There must be a political horizon with the root causes of continued conflict being addressed.
In his briefing to the Security Council on the same day, the UN Special Coordinator, Tor Wennesland, reiterated that
only through negotiations that end the occupation and create a viable two-State solution, on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States, can we hope to bring a definitive end to these senseless and costly cycles of violence.
Two days earlier, US Secretary of state Antony Blinken had said the United States would provide $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief for Gaza and $32 million to the U.N. Palestinian aid agency.
Reuters reported him saying:
We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges, and that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.
Blinken reiterated that Washington intended to ensure that Hamas, which it regards as a terrorist organisation, did not benefit from the humanitarian aid – a potentially difficult task in an enclave over which it has a strong grip.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that
An estimated 15,000 housing units sustained some degree of damage, as did multiple water and sanitation facilities and infrastructure, 58 education facilities, nine hospitals and 19 primary healthcare centres. The damage to infrastructure has exacerbated Gaza’s chronic infrastructure and power deficits, resulting in a decrease of clean water and sewage treatment, and daily power cuts of 18-20 hours, affecting hundreds of thousands. Municipal work teams and utility providers continue to re-open roads, remove rubble, and repair water, sewage, and electricity networks. However, the lack of spare parts and other essential equipment, the extent and severity of the damage and the fear of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) are slowing recovery.
Of particular concern are the nearly 600,000 school-age children whose education was suspended during the hostilities, having already been repeatedly interrupted due to COVID-19 public safety restrictions. Gaza’s health system, already overwhelmed by chronic drug shortages, inadequate equipment and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is now struggling to meet the needs of those injured during the hostilities.