CAIRO (TheBlaze/AP) — The United States promised $212 million in immediate assistance to the devastated Gaza Strip on Sunday yet urged Palestinians and Israelis to return to peace negotiations to break a cycle of violence that has yielded three wars in six years.
A view of buildings which were destroyed during the attacks of Israeli forces, in Shajaiya neighborhood of Gaza city, Gaza on 11 October, 2014. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
People in Gaza "need our help desperately — not tomorrow, not next week, but they need it now," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at an international donor conference. He said more than 20,000 homes need to be rebuilt and 100,000 people remain displaced with winter fast approaching.
The Palestinians are seeking $4 billion in aid from donors at a conference in Cairo to rebuild Gaza after this summer's 50-day war between Hamas and Israel.
During the war, an Israeli response to ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip aimed at southern and central Israel, Hamas apparently hid rockets in everything from church compounds to mosques and U.N. schools, helping to drag Gaza's population and buildings into the destruction of the conflict.
Palestinian children sit on the window of a partially destroyed building in al-Tufah, east of Gaza City on October 11, 2014, ahead of a donors conference in Cairo aimed at gathering efforts to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the devastating 50-day war between Israel and the Hamas militants who run the coastal Palestinian enclave. The Palestinian government has unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan for Gaza, calling for $4 billion to rebuild the war-battered territory, with the largest amount going to build housing for some 100,000 left homeless. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
Zionist Israeli publication Arutz Sheva reported Friday that Western diplomats were speaking of "considerable donor fatigue" when it came to Gaza, as the world keeps pouring money into the enclave only to see the supported infrastructure get blown up a few years later or, quite often, to later find out that the money and building supplies were used to construct smuggling tunnels instead of homes, hospitals and schools.
On Sunday, Kerry said the new U.S. money, which takes American aid to the Palestinians to more than $400 million this year, would go to security, economic development, food and medicine, shelter and water and sanitation projects.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, before a working breakfast during the Gaza Donor Conference. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool
Six months after the collapse of his Israeli-Palestinian mediation effort, the latest U.S. stab at forging a Mideast peace accord, Kerry renewed his call for a return to negotiations.
Kerry praised Egypt for organizing the conference, Israel for pledging to facilitate greater Palestinian economic opportunities and the U.N. for creating a monitoring system so that aid to Gaza isn't plundered by the militant group Hamas or used to threaten the Jewish state's security.
Palestinian construction laborers work on a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. After the Gaza war, the U.N. brokered a deal with Israel and the Palestinian government under which Israel is to allow imports of construction materials for the private sector. On the Gaza side, the shipments are to be tracked by U.N. and Palestinian officials. AP Photo/Khalil Hamra
But Kerry said a lasting solution needs to be found and that the world doesn't want to see a return every two years or so to a war in Gaza, a cease-fire and another expensive reconstruction effort.
"A cease-fire is not peace," he said. "And we've got to find a way to get back to the table and help people make tough choices."
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