GENEVA, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The four-week Israeli military offensive into the Gaza strip caused some 400 Palestinian children killed and over 2,700 injured, said the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday.
Pernille Ironside, Head of Field Office in Gaza with UNICEF, told a press briefing through telephone that the Israel’s military action has inflicted “catastrophic and tragic” impact to children and their families in Gaza.
In addition to updating the casualties of Palestinian children, Ironside noted a “daunting” number of about 370,000 children in Gaza who have had direct traumatic experience and were in urgent need of immediate psychological and social support.
Ironside said that the nearly-one-month-old conflict made the already-hard-life in Gaza even worse, further restricting the extremely-limited schooling and impaired the weak infrastructure.
The UN official stressed the devastating impact of damaged infrastructures, especially the dis-functioning electricity which further aggravated the scarceness of water.
The lack of electricity led to decommission of water pumping stations and water wells and of sewage pumping stations and treatment plants, as it was introduced.
People accommodated in shelters have very limited amount of drinking water and there were insufficient water for hygiene, and things were worse in communities outside of shelters, with most people have no access to potable water.
The risk of outbreak of contagious disease loomed, as she has highlighted.
“This is an urgent concern that could lead potentially to diarrhea and the further death of children, particularly those who are under age of five,” Ironside warned.
“There is no doubt that the impact of this conflict with thousands of missiles that stuck Gaza over the past month far surpasses even the combined impact of the previous two escalations (respectively in 2008 and 2012), both in physical terms and infrastructure terms,” the UN official stressed, adding that the cost of reconstruction would be greater than that of previous escalations.
As for the Egypt-brokered-72-hour ceasefire which went into effect from eight o’clock local time this morning, Ironside said that “there was some reason for optimism with commencement of the truce”, and hoped it would hold.
But she appealed that the ceasefire was not enough, and it was necessary to arrive at a permanent truce and to lift the closure on Gaza, which would serve for the best of the Palestinian children and the whole population.
“What is really required in the context is that there is an investigation that looks into all dimensions of the conflict in a transparent manner, and that leads to the truth as to what has taken place, and hopefully to justice and accountability,” Ironside added.
Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas movement on Monday agreed to unconditional truce proposed by Egypt. The new 72-hour conflict break starting from this morning will pave the way for a more sustainable ceasefire between the warring parties.
An Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo to negotiate with the Palestinians during the pause of fire.
Over the past few weeks, many rounds of international efforts to broker a viable ceasefire have unexceptionally failed as neither Israel nor Hamas was willing to lay down their arms and negotiate a peace.
Past records showed that any future talks for a more enduring truce could prove difficult as both sides are still far apart on key demands.
The Palestinians demand an end to the rigid blockade on Gaza and the release of Hamas prisoners, especially those Israel detained in a June crackdown in the West Bank in searching for three missing Jewish teens.
At least 1,820 Palestinians were killed since the beginning of the campaign earlier last month, and 10,000 others wounded, mostly civilians, according to Gaza’s health officials. In Israel, 67 people have died, while only three of them were civilians.