Children scavenge debris from a severely damaged building hit by an air-strike prior to a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip. (AP)As thousands of Gazans slowly tried to piece back together their lives, top UN staff visited the territory after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Friday halted 11 days of mutual bombardment, where they warned of the deep psychological trauma of the violence.
On Sunday, in a badly-damaged district of Gaza city, volunteers swept up clouds of dust at the feet of collapsed buildings, while others shovelled debris onto the back of a donkey-drawn cart.
Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip since May 10 have killed more than 200 Palestinians, rendered thousands homeless and laid waste to buildings and key infrastructure across the blockaded territory.
It was the latest such bombardment to hit the crowded coastal strip of some two million people, after three previous wars with Israel since 2008
Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said the reconstruction needed to go hand in hand with efforts to create “a different political environment”.
“We need to have a genuine focus on human development,” on proper access to education, jobs and livelihoods, he said.
“But this needs to be accompanied by a genuine political process”.
Speaking earlier to a group of journalists, he said “the layers of hardship in Gaza keep getting thicker”, because the root causes of the conflict have not been addressed.
– ‘No pause to breathe’ –
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking ahead of an imminent trip to the region, reaffirmed Washington’s support for a two-state solution so Israelis and Palestinians can live “with equal measures of security, of peace and dignity”.