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Plea for aid, assistance in Gaza

The United Nations and the Palestinian government have called for international donors to provide $US550 million ($A595 million) in aid to help hundreds of thousands of Gazans affected by a devastating war with Israel.

The appeal comes two weeks after Israel and Hamas ended 50 days of bloodshed that killed more than 2100 people, mostly civilians, and a month ahead of a donors’ conference in Cairo.

“The scope of damage and devastation is unprecedented in the Gaza Strip,” James Rawley, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.

“The crisis is far from over.”

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Rawley and Palestinian deputy prime minister Mohammed Mustafa outlined the humanitarian needs for post-war Gaza, calling for $US551 million for food aid, access to clean water, healthcare and education.

“We challenge the world to be ambitious and daring in helping us realise recovery, reconstruction and a better future for Gaza,” Mustafa said.

“An immediate measure is to end the blockade on Gaza and ensure our people never again experience the horrors of this summer.”

Israel agreed to ease restrictions on goods entering Gaza under a truce deal reached with Hamas on August 26.

But restrictions remain on building materials, which are crucial for reconstructing the Strip, large residential parts of which were flattened by Israeli artillery and aerial bombardment during the conflict.

Israel says steel and concrete could be used by Gaza militants to make weapons and build tunnels for attacking Israel.

Of the three crossings into the tiny coastal enclave, Israel controls two – one for personnel movement and another for goods. Egypt controls the third.

Tight restrictions of people movement are enforced, with only some in the Strip allowed to enter and exit, mostly for humanitarian reasons such as emergency medical care.

The UN has predicted that more than 100,000 people are to remain homeless in the long term.

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