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CAFOD’s Middle East Programmes Representative, Elizabeth Funnell, said:

“We welcome the news that a deal has been agreed for a four-day ceasefire allowing for the release of 50 hostages and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

“For Palestinians in Gaza in desperate need of life-saving food, water and medicine this will bring some respite. For the released hostages and their families, this is such an important moment, and will give hope to those hostages that remain.

“While a four-day pause in hostilities is a welcome first step, only a full ceasefire will enable sufficient humanitarian assistance to reach the more than 2.5 million people in desperate need. Only a permanent ceasefire will bring an end to the indiscriminate killing and injuring of civilians and the destruction of homes, schools and hospitals. Four days is simply not enough to allow for the release of all hostages.

“More than 12,000 people have been reported killed over the last six weeks of hostilities, many of them children, and the real number is likely to be much higher. More than 1.7 million people are displaced and living in overcrowded and dangerous conditions without access to basic essentials. It is estimated that over half of all housing units in Gaza have sustained damage. The scale of this crisis is huge – and will require much more than four days to alleviate the humanitarian suffering.

“We remain deeply concerned for our partner organisations’ staff and families who remain in Gaza City. Some have already lost their lives in this conflict.

“International humanitarian law must be upheld at all times – not for four days at a time.

“We reiterate our call for a full and permanent ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages.

“We urge the UK Government to show leadership in support of a political solution which will address the causes of the conflict, ensure accountability for violations of international law and enable a just and long-term peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

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