UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday launched an appeal for emergency aid worth 613 million U.S. dollars for Palestinians in the aftermath of Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
"These needs are massive and multi-faceted," Ban told the World
Economic Forum in Davos, adding that the funds were urgently needed to help provide water, sanitation, healthcare and food to Gaza's 1.4 million people.
Ban said the sum of 613 million dollars would cover the requirements of the United Nations and other aid organizations in the next six to nine months.
Ban and John Holmes, head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also called on Israel to lift an 18-month blockade of Gaza to allow in the necessary humanitarian aid.
"We're asking for the crossing points to be opened fully ... otherwise, we will not be able to achieve what we want to achieve," Holmes told reporters.
Israel declared an unilateral halt to its 22-day military assault on Gaza on Jan. 18, which was followed by Gaza militants' declaration of a weeklong ceasefire.
But Israeli war aircraft Thursday bombarded the border between the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah and Egypt, after Gaza militant groups fired a homemade rocket at southern Israel.
Ban said the latest attacks showed the ceasefire was "very fragile," and called for diplomatic efforts to make it "more durable."
Israel's military offensive in Gaza killed 1,330 people, at least half of them civilians, and wounded 5,450 others, according to Palestinian medics.
At least 21,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, the UN estimated.