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UN appeals for $547 million in aid for Palestinians

‘Needs in Gaza remain particularly acute and humanitarian services provided by the international community remain a lifeline’

A Palestinian woman holds her baby in an UNRWA center in the Rafah refugee camp, in southern Gaza Strip on August 13, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A Palestinian woman holds her baby in an UNRWA center in the Rafah refugee camp, in southern Gaza Strip on August 13, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The United Nations launched an appeal Monday for $547 million to help 1.6 million people in the Palestinian territories in 2017.

The response covers 1.1 million residents of the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade for the past decade, and half a million people in the West Bank.

The most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza ended in August 2014, but Israel has maintained tight restrictions on the enclave, while Egypt has also closed its border.

Hamas, the terror group which seized control of Gaza in 2007, is avowedly committed to destroying Israel. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent Hamas importing weaponry.

The United Nations has warned that the tiny, but densely populated coastal enclave could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends continue.

“Needs in Gaza remain particularly acute and humanitarian services provided by the international community remain a lifeline,” said Robert Piper, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a letter accompanying the launch.

The appeal was down from $571 million the year before, of which about 47 percent, or $267 million, was met.

Piper said in a separate statement that without political reform and a meaningful peace process, international aid was “just trying to buy time.”

“This humanitarian response must be coupled with bold political action,” he said.

Attempts to encourage new peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been stalled since 2014.

Palestinians also remained riven by deep internal divisions, with plans creating a new unity government growing moribund.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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