Gaza on verge of ‘full collapse’ warns UN official

Woman in Gaza protests US freezing of aid to Palestinian refugees

TEL AVIV - A senior United Nations official on Tuesday warned the Palestinian coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip was on the verge of "full collapse".
UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay M ladenov said a key to saving Gaza from disaster was restoring the government of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to power there, a decade after it was forced out by the militant Islamist movement Hamas.
"Without that Gaza risks exploding in our face again, this time in a far more deadly and violent manner than in the past," Mladenov said at the annual conference of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Gaza, battered since 2008 by three wars between Israel and Palestinian militants, suffers from shattered infrastructure, a strict Israeli blockade and massive unemployment.
Earlier this month, the White House froze tens of millions of dollars in contributions to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
"I often say publicly, in (UN) Security Council briefings and in other formats, that we are in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis," Mladenov said.
"Let me be very clear today here, that we're well beyond that," he added.
"We're on the verge of a total systems failure in Gaza, with a full collapse of the economy, with social services, political, humanitarian and security implications stemming from that."
Mladenov said he would raise those concerns in Brussels on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians.
He said the meeting would be at a high level with representatives of the Israelis, Palestinians and "a number" of Arab foreign ministers attending.
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah will take part, a Palestinian Authority statement said.
"One of our key messages must really be: what can we actually do to create and preserve hope for the people of Gaza, in order to address both the militant aspect of it and the humanitarian aspect?" Mladenov said.