Gaza death toll rises as donors to pledge funds for reconstruction

Palestinian protesters carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers on August 15 2014. (Reuters)

Palestinian protesters carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers on August 15 2014. (Reuters)

The death toll in the war-torn Gaza Strip rose above 2 000 on Monday, the health ministry said as more people injured in over a month of fighting with the Israelis succumbed to their wounds. 

According to a ministry statement, a total of 2 016 people were killed and another 10 196 wounded. Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men, it said.

The toll, which had stood at 1 980, jumped up after a number of people died from their injuries in hospitals across Gaza, as well as in Cairo and Jerusalem where they had been taken for treatment. 

Medics also retrieved another body from under the rubble in the battered Shejaiya district east of Gaza City, where it had lain for more than three weeks, the statement said. 

Separately, the Israeli army confirmed that five of 64 soldiers killed in combat had died as a result of “friendly fire”. There was no immediate word on the circumstances of their deaths.

Lasting ceasefire
Meanwhile, international donors will meet in Cairo to pledge funds for the reconstruction of Gaza as soon as a lasting ceasefire is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Norway announced.

The funds raised under the aegis of Egypt and Norway will be released to Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country heads the international coordination committee for aid to the Palestinians. 

The statement came as crucial ceasefire talks were under way in Cairo and the clock ticked down to a midnight (9pm GMT) deadline ending a five-day truce to enable negotiators to broker a long-term end to the bloodshed. 

Norway noted that it was the third time in a few years that international donors will have been called on to finance Gaza reconstruction, and demanded new conditions. 

“We cannot expect the international community to finance reconstruction once again” without prior conditions, Brende said in a statement. In particular, he called for an end to the eight-year-old Israeli blockade of Gaza and for security guarantees for civilians on both sides of the border. 

“Keeping people hemmed in and on the brink of famine will not guarantee the security of Gaza’s neighbours,” he said. – AFP


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