As fighting resumes in Gaza, 'humanitarian emergency' declared

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

The three-day ceasefire between Israel and Gaza has ended, with reports of 21 rockets being fired over the border from Hamas militants.

Israel has responded in turn, with an airstrike on Gaza.

A statement from the Israel military confirms: "Following renewed rocket launching at Israel, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) targeted terror sites across the Gaza strip."

"We will continue to strike Hamas, its infrastructure, its operatives, and restore security for the State of Israel," Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said.

Civilians of Gaza city are reportedly fleeing the renewed violence, and at least three separate areas have been hit. There are thought to be a number of causalities, but full details are not yet known.

One witness has reported, however, that a 10-year-old boy was killed in the strikes this morning.

The ceasefire came to an end at 8am local time today (5am GMT) despite attempts to extend it "indefinitely".

Egyptian-mediated talks failed to establish an agreement between Israeli and Palestinian forces, with Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum telling AFP: "All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have agreed not to renew the ceasefire because [Israel] is refusing to accommodate our demands, but negotiations continue in Cairo."

Over 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed since the airstrikes began on July 8 under the title 'Operation Protective Edge'.

According to the UN, 415 of those to lose their lives in Gaza were children, which has sparked international outrage.

As the violence continues to escalate, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has today launched an appeal for aid.

The appeal aims to help thousands who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

The latest statistics from the DEC, a committee made up of 13 British aid agencies including Oxfam, Tearfund and Christian Aid, reveal that there are now 65,000 people in Gaza whose homes have been severely damaged or entirely destroyed.

At least 1.5 million are without access to enough clean water and sanitation, and fears are growing that disease will soon break out.

"After four weeks of terrible fighting Gaza is on the edge," DEC Chief Executive Salah Saeed warned.

"Many people are living in terribly overcrowded UN shelters, but they still need food and basic household items which we take for granted. Many are in urgent need of medical care, but hospital supplies are almost finished."

Saeed labelled the escalating conflict a "humanitarian emergency affecting virtually even man, woman and child in Gaza".

"Even before the conflict began the people of Gaza were close to breaking point," he added.

"The DEC's member agencies and their partners are on the ground but they need funds to meet the huge needs. They are relying on the generosity of the British people to make a difference in Gaza."

DEC members are said have been "rapidly increasing" their efforts on the ground during the recent ceasefire, but will now face further difficulties as the airstrikes recommence.

The DEC already accepting donations via its website and a 24-hour phone line. Its appeal will be televised on all major broadcasters today.

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