The Latest: UN: Gaza has significant trauma, medical needs

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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 Photo/Khalil Hamra)

GENEVA — 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 U.N. briefing in Geneva came 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 U.N. 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 cease-fire that took effect overnight, he said it “feels like a fragile cease fire” and lamented the “unbearable and unacceptable cost this has had for the civilian population. And I know that applies to people in Israel, too.”


TEHRAN — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new drone named “Gaza,” amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, the country’s state TV reported Friday.

The report said the wide-body drone has a 35-hour flight duration and is capable of carrying 13 bombs more than 2,000 kilometers ( 1,240 miles).

TV also said in addition to military surveillance, combat, reconnaissance missions, the Gaza drone can monitor forests, help rescue operations and providing assistance in natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

Gen. Hossein Salami, chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, said during the unveiling ceremony that “we called it Gaza so that God willing it can be an eternal honor for those who are resisting the Zionist invasion.”

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese’s Hezbollah.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has welcomed the cease-fire in Gaza but is also calling for a two-state solution to ensure a permanent end to the conflict.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement on Friday said Turkey expects the international community, and especially the U.N. Security Council, “to act in order to bring a complete end to the persecution” of Palestinians.

The ministry said: “In order to prevent the recurrence of the pain and tears in Palestine, it is necessary to ensure that Israel is made accountable internationally for its crimes and lifts the inhumane blockade imposed on Gaza.”

The statement also called for an end to the “Israeli occupation” of Palestinian territories in order to achieve a lasting, fair and comprehensive solution, and added that Turkey would continue to support the Palestinians’ “just cause.”


JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers against any further rocket attacks following a cease-fire.

In a speech hours after the truce took effect on Friday, he said, “if Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force against any expression of aggression against communities around Gaza and any other part of Israel.”

Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war, their fourth since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s foreign minister says her country is “very concerned” about the high casualty rates in Gaza, the suffering of the civilian population and the “great devastation.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide made the comments as her country announced stepping up humanitarian aid to Gaza by 30 million kroner ($3.6 million).

That comes on top of 71 million kroner ($8.5 million) in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians that the Scandinavian country has given so far in 2021. The money will be channeled through the United Nations and humanitarian organizations.

In a separate statement, Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said “now that the guns have finally gone silent, let us not mistake this calm for normality.”

Egeland said that leaders in the U.S., Europe and the Arab world should “push Israel and the Palestinians to work out a way that will end this unsustainable injustice.”


BEIJING — China says it will offer cash and 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians caught up in the latest fighting in Gaza.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday told reporters that $1 million would be provided as emergency humanitarian assistance and another $1 million would go to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides vital assistance to the 75% of the enclave’s population who are refugees.

China will “continue to provide humanitarian support within its capacity and actively participate in the reconstruction of Gaza according to the needs of the Palestinian side,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

The fighting has brought Gaza’s health care system to the brink of collapse and its COVID-19 vaccination drive, already slow, has stopped, according to WHO’s top official in Gaza, Sacha Bootsma. China has become a major exporter and donor of COVID-19 vaccines, taking a leading role in what some have termed “vaccine diplomacy.”

China is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause but also maintains robust ties with Israel.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister has welcomed a cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas- militant group that rules Gaza.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he hoped latest the cease-fire announcement could help revive efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Qureshi’s comments came Friday as Pakistanis across the country began gathering for anti-Israel rallies to express solidarity with Palestinians.

Pakistan is among few countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.


BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat is welcoming the Gaza cease-fire, but he says only a revival of long-term peace talks can ensure that such fighting does not flare up again in the future.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday in a statement that “we commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this.”

Borrell says “the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable. Only a political solution will bring sustainable peace and end once for all the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

He says that “restoring a political horizon towards a two-state solution now remains of utmost importance” and that the EU stands ready to help both sides achieve that.

The EU’s support for a two-state solution is long-standing, but the 27-nation bloc is divided over how to handle relations with Israel and the Palestinians. On Tuesday, Hungary blocked the publication of a joint statement on the conflict.


PARIS — The French minister of foreign affairs is praising the Gaza cease-fire as the outcome of diplomatic efforts involving Europeans, the United States and several Arab countries.

In a statement, Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the “fundamental role” of Egypt in the talks that led to that result. He said the cessation of hostilities was the “absolute priority” to protect civilian populations and avoid an extension of the conflict.

The statement said France seeks to play a role in reviving peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, and wants to see humanitarian aid resume to the region, particularly to Gaza.


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians rallied by the thousands early Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas over a far more powerful Israel.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks. Spontaneous celebrations also broke out in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank.

The 11-day war left more than 200 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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