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Oxfam calls for urgent ceasefire as Gaza - Israel violence escalates
Oxfam warned today that any further escalation in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel will have devastating humanitarian consequences for civilians. The agency called for an immediate halt to the increasing violence against civilians, and condemned the rising number of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli military actions.
"All sides must step back from the abyss before it is too late. Further conflict will only bring further suffering for ordinary people," said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.
Continued escalation will have a particularly severe impact on civilians in Gaza, who are already impoverished by the ongoing Israeli blockade and account for the vast majority of those injured and killed in the violence. Local medical groups report more than 20 people killed and at least 120 injured in Gaza in the past 24 hours.
Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, and the blockade has left its economy crippled, people unable to move freely, and people struggling to access basic services such as safe water, healthcare and sanitation. The current escalation is having an impact beyond the violence - this week's Israeli government decision to restrict Gaza's fishermen to just three nautical miles from the shore is likely to significantly affect the livelihoods of thousands of families that Oxfam works to support.
Tens of thousands of Israeli civilians have been affected by the rise in rocket strikes from Gaza, with buildings hit and schools and other facilities closed. Several injuries have been reported.
More rockets and airstrikes have been reported in the past few weeks than in the whole of 2013, with both sides increasing attacks. Between 13 June and 1 July, there were reports of at least 104 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel and at least 111 Israeli airstrike missiles hit Gaza.
Oxfam called on both parties to agree an immediate ceasefire and respect international humanitarian law.
Alun McDonald, Media and Communications Coorditor, Jerusalem +972546395002 (Jerusalem) +972592992208 (West Bank and Gaza) Alun.McDonald@oxfamnovib.nl