Homes of 1,100 Palestinians in Gaza destroyed - UN agency

UNRWA chief Peter Hansen

10 May 2004 – The last 10 days have seen one of the most intense periods of destruction by the Israeli military in Gaza since the start of the Intifada, with more than 100 homes flattened and 1,100 people left homeless, the main United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees said today.

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the Israeli military has demolished or damaged beyond repair 131 residential buildings since the start of May, bringing to 17,594 the total number of people who have lost their homes in Gaza.

The majority of the demolitions have taken place in Rafah in the south, where 11,215 people have already been made homeless by demolitions since the beginning of the current strife in September 2000, and in the region of the Kissufim Road, where a Palestinian attack on 2 May left an Israeli mother and her four children dead.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said the Agency condemned "without reservation the 2 May killings, as it does the killing of innocent Palestinians and their children, as international law simply forbids collective punishment."

"The overwhelming majority of the more than 17,000 Palestinians who have lost their homes in Gaza since the start of the intifada have been guilty of nothing more than living in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

UNRWA, the largest humanitarian operation in the occupied Palestinian territory, has been providing those who have lost their homes with water, food, blankets and cash assistance. With funding from donors, the Agency has been able to build new shelters in safe places for several hundred of the homeless families, but its resources are unable to meet the growing humanitarian crisis faced by those without shelter.

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