LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Thirteen British charities launched a joint emergency appeal on Thursday for aid for civilians in Gaza caught up in the devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Gaza officials say 1,874 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the month-long Israeli offensive against the small coastal enclave, home to some 1.8 million people.
Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since July 8 when Israel launched its offensive after a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.
“The escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas has caused the humanitarian situation in Gaza to reach crisis point,” the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said in a statement.
The DEC is an umbrella organisation which brings 13 charities together in response to specific emergencies: Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
Its recent calls for donations included the Philippines Typhoon Appeal, the Syria Crisis Appeal and East Africa Crisis Appeal.
Israel declared a 72-hour ceasefire on Tuesday and indirect talks between the two sides are under way in Cairo.
The DEC said up to 485,000 Gazans are in urgent need of food aid and 65,000 have been made homeless by the conflict. 1.5 million people in Gaza have no or very limited access to water or sanitation.
“Services in Gaza were severely stretched before the conflict, and 80 percent of the population depended on UN food aid,” the DEC said. “There is now massive unmet humanitarian need in Gaza which can only be met with substantial international assistance.”
The DEC will broadcast its Gaza Crisis Appeal 2014 on British television and radio stations on Friday evening, followed by a campaign online and in print media, a spokesman told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In 2009 the BBC and Sky, another UK-based broadcaster, faced criticism for refusing to broadcast a DEC appeal for aid for Gaza after a previous Israeli offensive, citing impartiality concerns.
(Editing by Tim Pearce; email@example.com)