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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
UN warns of 'growing Gaza crisis'
Palestinians at a funeral in the Jabaliya refugee camp
Israel's latest incursion into Gaza has led to dozens of deaths
The United Nations has warned in a special report of an impending humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

It says as many as 72% of Palestinians will be living in poverty by the end of 2006, and that Israeli restrictions are hampering emergency aid deliveries.

Since 28 September, 82 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed in Gaza, including 26 children, the report says.

Compiled by 12 UN agencies, the report calls on Israel to allow the agencies free access throughout the strip.

'Legitimate concerns'

"The UN organisations recognise Israel's legitimate security concerns, particularly the need to stop Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks into civilian areas, however its actions should be in conformity with international humanitarian law and it should not use disproportionate force," the report says.

GAZA HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
In 2004, an average of 45 Palestinians have died every month in fighting
In September 2004, 133 homes were destroyed by the Israeli army, 807 Palestinians were made homeless
24,547 Gazans have been made homeless in the last four years by Israeli army house demolitions
72% of Gazans will live in poverty by 2006
Source: United Nations

The report says residents have difficulty finding work, exporting goods, moving around Gaza and sending their children to school.

Currently, 66% of Palestinians in Gaza live on less than $2 a day - the UN-defined poverty line.

Israel should "respect its obligations under humanitarian law by ensuring the safety of the Palestinian civilian population", the report says.

The UN estimates that an average of 120 residential buildings have been demolished each month this year by the army.

The report comes as Gaza has witnessed a surge in violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Paul McCann of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unwra, told BBC News Online that the agency had been allowed by the Israeli army to make on food delivery to an area east of Jabaliya camp.

He said Thursday's delivery of emergency aid was the first by the UN during the eight days of the current Israeli military operation.

Qassam rockets

Israel says it has gone into Gaza to stop militants from Hamas launching Qassam rockets into neighbouring southern Israel.

About 1.4 million Palestinians live in Gaza, of which 900,000 are refugees from previous conflicts with Israel.

The Israeli prime minister is trying to push through a plan to withdraw from Gaza and four small West Bank settlements, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

Approximately 8,000 settlers from Gaza and the troops that protect them are expected to leave Gaza by the end of 2005, though Israel will maintain control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace.


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