UN humanitarian chief calls for end to Israel's Gaza blockade

UN humanitarian chief calls for end to Israel's Gaza blockade
Lynn Hasting met with those affected by recent attacks and surveyed the damage caused by Israeli bombing.
2 min read
24 May, 2021
Over 200 people were killed in the recent Israeli attacks [Getty]

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories has called for the blockade of Gaza to end, and for the besieged enclave to be reconnected with the rest of Palestine, following a two day visit to affected areas in Gaza. 

Lynn Hastings arrived in Gaza on Saturday, a day after a ceasefire was called, to survey the damage done to homes and civilian infrastructure. 

"I witnessed the despair of displaced families whose homes have been completely destroyed," Hastings said in a statement. 

Hastings lamented the damage done to vital civilian Palestinian infrastructure by Israeli attacks, including healthcare services, water sanitation pipelines and agricultural supplies warehouses.

Critically needed healthcare services - including Covid-19 support - were also targeted by Israeli forces. 

"The only primary healthcare centre in the north - which had the best rate of vaccination administration - has been damaged to an extent that they are no longer able to service the community - all during a global pandemic," said Hastings. 

During her visit, the humanitarian coordinator met with civilians affected by the Israeli attacks, and those who lost loved ones. 

"All my ideas and dreams have ended. I have no more hopes in life. Under the rubble, my children were screaming, and I heard them. Their voices stopped one after another," Riyad Eshkuntana, who lost his wife and four of his five children, told Hastings.

Hastings highlighted the trauma felt by civilians in Gaza, who were recently subjected to repeated and brutal Israeli bombardments, but also to the trauma of previous attacks.

"Many people told me they feel helpless - and no longer have hope. Parents say they cannot reassure their children that this won’t happen again. How can they after so many wars?" asked Hastings in a statement. 


In her statement, the humanitarian coordinator announced that $18 million worth of aid would be released by the Humanitarian Fund and the Emergency Relief Coordinator in New York, for essential items such as food, medicine and fuel. A further $4 million will be allocated to secure access to basic services, such as healthcare and water.

Recognising the immense strain that the Israeli blockade puts on Gaza, Hastings called for the siege to be lifted. 

"The potential of this coastal area is immense; its economy must be allowed to fully function. Gaza must open-up and be reconnected to the rest of Palestine, including East Jerusalem," she said. 

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories visited Gaza after a brutal bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, which killed an estimated 248 people, including 66 children, with a further 1,948 people suffering injures.