UNRWA calls for a ceasefire in Gaza to stop civilian deaths

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On 10 July 2014, boys carry clothing salvaged from the rubble of the Al Haj home, which was destroyed during an early morning Israeli air strike in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0905/El Baba

There could be more deaths and destruction in Gaza, if efforts to broker a ceasefire between the Israel and Palestine fail, according to the UN agency providing assistance to Palestinians, UNRWA.

Already over 174 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,100 injured, since the start of Israel's latest military offensive in Gaza.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, UNRWA spokesperson Sami Mshasha said the possibility of Israel launching a ground offensive into Gaza was growing adding that such a move would be catastrophic as it would lead to more civilian deaths, destruction of homes and other public infrastructure.

He said more than 17,000 Palestinians have now sought refuge in public schools operated by UNRWA, but added that they were also at risk as Israel has previously targeted United Nations run facilities.

"There is a high level of anticipation for the ceasefire to take effect today or tomorrow, and if it doesn’t, I am afraid that the civilians in Gaza will end up paying again the ultimate price. People seek refuge in UNRWA installations because these are marked as UN buildings, and they feel a sense of safety and security when they come to it. But from the experience of 2008, some of these UN buildings were also targets. And some of the refugees who sort refuge there were injured. We would like to repeat to the Israelis the fact that they have to respect that these are UN buildings, and they have the GPS coordinates for these buildings and UNRWA upholds the high standards of neutrality in these buildings and makes sure that the people in them are civilians. “

UNRWA says 47 of its facilities have been damaged by Israeli air raids.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1:36″

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