256 dead, including 69 children, in Mideast hostilities: UN

United Nations, May 20: The United Nations’ casualty count from hostilities in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel on Wednesday showed 256 people dead – including 69 children and an Israeli soldier – and thousands of people injured.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 219 Palestinians, including 63 children, were killed in Gaza. In the West Bank, 25 Palestinian deaths were tallied, including four children. Israeli sources reported 12 people killed, including two children and a soldier. Thousands of people are injured, mainly in the West Bank and in Gaza, Xinhua reported.
The hostilities shuttered six hospitals and nine primary healthcare centres in Gaza. Damage from a nearby airstrike halted Covid-19 testing at the Gaza Central Laboratory, the UN humanitarians reported. A non-governmental organization hospital stopped functioning because of fuel shortages.
Electric power in Gaza dropped, on average, to just three to four hours a day due to feeder line damage, OCHA said.
The World Food Programme reported giving out electronic vouchers to 74,000 people in Gaza as of Monday.
Humanitarian partners were assessing the damage to homes and prioritizing repair support.
The UN refugee agency for Palestinians, known as UNRWA, said it provides for the displaced in designated areas water, sanitation, hygiene services for the displaced and electric generators.
On Tuesday, the Israelis allowed several fuel trucks crossing through the Kerem Shalom to power electrical generators but held back additional humanitarian vehicles for security reasons.
On Wednesday, OCHA said the barred trucks carried cargo that included Covid-19 vaccines, first aid kits, medical disposables and drugs, including emergency medicines, fire extinguishers and fuel.
Given the high number of vulnerable people, there is great concern about the spread of Covid-19.
The world organization said Gaza crossings should be open for essential and humanitarian supplies, including fuel for basic services, supplies to curb the spread of Covid-19 and to ensure that those who need life-saving treatment can access such relief.
The humanitarian fund for the occupied Palestinian territories expects to soon release $14 million toward a response appeal to be announced by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, the UN chief’s relief coordinator.—(IANS)

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