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UN: 10,000 Palestinians flee homes in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

  • At least 11 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces as protests took place across the occupied West Bank, per AP. Israel Defense Forces tweeted Friday that "an assailant armed with a knife" was "neutralized" near Nablus.

More than 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza have fled their homes since the fighting began, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the region said Friday, adding that those displaced are "sheltering in schools, mosques and other places during a global COVID-19 pandemic with limited access to water, food, hygiene, and health services."

  • "Hospitals and access to water and sanitation services depend on electricity, the fuel for which will run out on Sunday," OHCA humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings said.
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A Palestinian boy who fled his home due to Israeli air and artillery strikes sits on a mattress at a school in Gaza City. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

The current escalation began this week after violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police offices during protests over the planned evictions of six Palestinian families to make way for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.

  • Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or Temple Mount, and violently dispersed Palestinian protesters, some of whom were throwing rocks.
  • Hamas, which controls Gaza, warned it would attack Israel if Israeli police did not leave the compound. An air war followed, with Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launching more than 1,500 rockets and mortar shells and Israel conducting airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
  • Israel on Thursday began massing troops on its border with Gaza, launching attacks from the air, sea and ground.
  • This week has also seen the worst inter-communal violence in Israel since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000.
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An Israeli man reacts as he inspects the damage caused to his apartment after it was hit by shrapnel of a rocket fired from Gaza in the souther Israeli city of Ashkelon. Photo: Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What they're saying: "The Secretary-General appeals to all parties to immediately cease the fighting in Gaza and Israel," Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement Friday.

  • "The parties must allow for mediation efforts to intensify with a view to ending the fighting immediately. The UN is actively involved in such efforts, which  are also crucial for delivering much needed humanitarian aid to the affected people in Gaza," he added.
  • "The Secretary-General reiterates that only a sustainable political solution will lead to lasting peace."

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