Australia Provides $5 Million Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

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Four-year-old Palestinian girl Shayma Al-Masri, who hospital officials said was wounded in an Israeli air strike that killed her mother and two of her siblings, lies on a bed next to her doll as she receives treatment at a hospital in Gaza City July 14, 2014. The girl and her father were the only survivors left in the family. Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza a week into its offensive on Monday, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants whose rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted. More than 166 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials said, in seven days of fighting that has shown no sign of ending. Israel says its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire at its cities from the Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Australia's humanitarian aid to Gaza amounting to $5 million.

The Australian Government provides humanitarian aid to Gaza amounting to $5 million to be delivered through the governments accredited partners in Gaza: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), World Vision and APHEDA.

The country's aid will provide Gaza with emergency food, medical supplies, hygiene kits and psycho-social support.

UNRWA will also restore education and health services, and NGOs to rebuild livelihood programs for communities through Australia's monetary aid.

"The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the continuing conflict between Israel and militant groups in Gaza, the growing number of casualties and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Many Palestinian civilians have lost their lives along with a number of Israeli soldiers and civilians. Large numbers of people have been displaced from their homes, buildings and essential services damaged, and livelihoods jeopardized," Bishop said in a statement.

The $5 million humanitarian assistance is part of Australia's existing commitment to provide $56.5 million in development assistance to the Palestinian Territories in 2014-15, Bishop added.

"This funding will help build Palestinian institutional capacity, stimulate private sector economic growth, improve livelihoods and meet humanitarian needs. UNRWA will receive $20 million of this funding."

Through Bishop, Australia expressed its support to the 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and to world leaders who made the ceasefire plausible.

Meanwhile, Federal Labor member for Fremantle and former United Nations lawyer Melissa Parke, who lived in Gaza for two and a half years, accused Australia of obviously favouring Israel.

"It's a blatantly Pro-Israel position and I don't think that Israel is really interested in peace," she said.

Her opinion was stated in a strongly-worded petition letter that Australia's 30 state MPs have signed.

However, Labor's Michael Danby, who is Jewish, said that the petition letter was biased.

"If Hamas stops firing the rockets into Israel, then I think the Israeli's can cease military operations. I don't think anyone likes to see these civilian deaths but we have to remember Melissa's letter is a bit unbalanced, it doesn't mention the fact that Hamas's program is to destroy Israel, replace it entirely," he said.

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