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WHO tallies ‘significant trauma needs’ in Gaza after ceasefire

Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, looks on as she stands in front of her family's destroyed homes, to which they returned following a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, looks on as she stands in front of her family's destroyed homes, to which they returned following a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

The World Health Organization has tallied “significant trauma needs” in Palestinian areas, where at least 243 people have been killed during 11 days of fighting between Palestinians and Israelis.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said a total of 8,538 people had been injured across Palestinian areas during the violence, and 30 health facilities in Gaza had been damaged — with one clinic fully destroyed and another sustaining significant damage. She said damage to infrastructure was impeding the access of ambulances.

The comments to a UN briefing in Geneva come as humanitarian aid workers assessed the fallout from the latest fighting between Hamas militant fighters and Israeli forces.

Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated there were “several hundred” pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn about in Gaza and said medical supplies were a pressing need.

Matthias Schmale, Gaza director for UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees, cited a “window” of several hours on Friday during which aid and supplies could be brought in through the Kerem Shalom crossing point into Gaza. Speaking by video from Gaza City, he noted that a central laboratory that carries out testing for COVID-19 had been “made dysfunctional by a massive bomb explosion.”

Alluding to a ceasefire that took effect overnight, he said it “feels like a fragile ceasefire” and lamented the “unbearable and unacceptable cost this has had for the civilian population. And I know that applies to people in Israel, too.”

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