Gaza: Call for action after school is shelled

Posted on 24/07/2014 by

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British Red Cross launches Gaza appeal

gaza3UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is ‘deeply concerned’ by the crisis in Gaza and is urging continued efforts towards ceasefire. Mr Hammond spoke as reports that at least 15 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in the shelling of a United Nations-run school used as a shelter in Gaza. The British Red Cross has also launched an appeal to fund vital help for people affected.

More than 600 people have died and almost 150,000 forced to flee their homes in more than two weeks of violence. As the conflict continues, 1.2 million people have no or limited access to water or sanitation.

Staff and volunteers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have already been working around in the clock in dangerous conditions to help people affected.

Donations to the appeal will help them continue giving essential support, which has so far included emergency health care such as treating the wounded, sending ambulances across the Gaza Strip and bringing truckloads of medical supplies to hospitals. The Movement has also carried out vital repairs to water and sewage networks.

The Movement has also negotiated crucial pauses in the fighting, allowing civilians to evacuate some of the worst hit areas.

Katy Attfield, British Red Cross head of disaster management, said: “The violence in Gaza and Israel has devastated communities, and left many people in desperate need of help. Donations to the appeal will give them crucial support in the weeks and months ahead. Please give what you can.”

To donate to the appeal visit http://www.redcross.org.uk

redcrossappealVisiting Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on yesterday and today (23 and 24 July), Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The Foreign Secretary said: “The conflict in Gaza is taking a terrible toll. With more than 700 Palestinians killed, including more than 150 children, as well as the loss of more than 30 Israeli lives, it is beyond time to bring an end to this conflict and stop the bloodshed.

“I stressed to all those I saw my deep concern at the high numbers of civilian casualties and the humanitarian impact of the conflict. I underlined the need for all concerned to exert every effort to secure an immediate ceasefire to end the violence.

“With President Abbas, I expressed my concern for the heavy loss of civilian lives in Gaza, including many women and children. I reiterated the UK’s strong support for his leadership and thanked him for his own efforts to achieve a ceasefire. I stressed that, once a ceasefire is secured, there is an urgent need for a long term plan for Gaza.

“With Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman, I expressed my deep concern at Hamas’s rocket attacks and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. I urged that Israeli forces do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties, and stressed the need for a rapid conclusion to their ground operation in Gaza.

“With all, I emphasised the UK’s support for the US-Egyptian led efforts to broker a ceasefire, which remains the best means of ending the current violence and preventing further loss of life. For a ceasefire to be durable, there must then be rapid movement to address the underlying causes of the conflict, with a central role for the Palestinian Authority and a strong one for the international community.

“The current crisis underlines once again the need for a wider political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is the only way to secure a lasting peace.”

gaza2Commenting on the worsening situation, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “It is vital that the situation is brought under control and de-escalated as soon as possible, to prevent any more loss of innocent civilian lives, such as those in this latest incident.

“That involves restraint on both sides – the rocket attacks on Israel should stop, as should the Israeli shelling of Gaza, which has been heavily disproportionate. Israel has a right to seek security for its own citizens, but that should not involve the shelling of civilian areas.

“I am glad to see that the UK Government have now become active on this issue, with the Foreign Secretary’s visit to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. However, that action will only be effective if it involves frank dialogue, and as such the Foreign Secretary’s view that ‘Western opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel’ is one that should be heeded by the Israeli leadership.

“As a Government we continue to add our voice to those in the international community calling for an immediate, longer term ceasefire to put an end to the violence that is causing so many civilian deaths and injuries. We also believe that the continued blockade of Gaza is exacerbating the suffering experienced by the civilian population people there and should come to an end.”

In the past 16 days of fighting, more than 750 Palestinians and 33 Israelis have been killed, with thousands more injured, according to official reports. With little prospect of peace in sight and the international community seemingly unable to intervene to stop the slaughter, those dreadful figures can only rise. 

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That appeal website address again:

http://www.redcross.org.uk

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