Humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza as rebuilding efforts get underway

As residents searched the rubble and continued to take stock of the damage in Gaza, humanitarian aid arrived in the long-impoverished region on Saturday, less than 48 hours after a ceasefire was declared between Israel and Hamas.

The The United Nations said they had released $ 22.5 millionThis would lead to the reconstruction of damaged water and electricity infrastructure and the disposal of explosive ordnance.

“The hostilities have exacerbated the needs of 2 million people in Gaza who have been weakened by 13 years of enforced isolation and the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mark Lowcock, the United States emergency aid coordinator, said in a statement.

During the 11 days of fighting that ended late Thursday, over 77,000 Palestinians were displaced and unable to leave Gaza, the United States said in a statement. Many have now started returning home despite at least 1,000 people having completely destroyed or badly damaged their homes, he added.

Palestinian officials have estimated the cost of reconstruction at tens of millions of dollars.

Egypt, which helped broker the ceasefire, said it had sent a convoy of aid trucks carrying groceries, bedding, medicines and baby milk, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s office said in one statement.

Despite the clashes between the Israeli police and the Palestinians in the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after Friday prayers, the ceasefire appeared to exist on Saturday following the fighting in which Israel struck Gaza with air strikes and artillery. Palestinian militants also fired thousands of rockets at Israel, the country’s military said.

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The Gaza Strip Health Ministry said at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the violence, while Israeli officials said at least 12 people had died.

Despite the ceasefire, experts disagree on whether long-term peace can be achieved.

President Joe Biden said at a press conference at the White House on Friday that a two-state solution was the only answer to resolving the deeply rooted conflict.

“I pray this ceasefire will last,” he said before pledging US support for the rebuilding of Gaza, which is ruled by the militant group Hamas, which the US and Israel call a terrorist organization.

State Secretary Antony Blinken will also travel to the region “in the coming days”, the Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.

Adi Vaizel is investigating the damage his home in Ashkelon, Israel, wrought on Thursday after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.Amir Cohen / Reuters

While Nadeen Abed al-Lateef stood in Gaza amid the rubble in her neighborhood at the age of 10, she told NBC News, “It was scary and terrifying for kids like us.”

Across the border in Ashkelon, Israel, Ron Ariely’s home was partially destroyed when it was hit by a Hamas rocket last week. He said it damaged his hearing.

“I heard like a big noise … I can’t even describe it, I’ve never heard anything like it,” he said.

Though he welcomed the ceasefire, Ariely predicted that another cycle of violence would never be far off.

“It’s pretty much the routine here,” he added.

Richard Engel, Elizabeth Kuhr, Erin McLaughlin and Gabe Joselow contributed.

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