UN official calls for immediate halt of Gaza escalation

At least 29 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since Friday.

UN official calls for immediate halt of Gaza escalation

The United Nations' Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, has called for an immediate halt to escalation and violence in the Gaza Strip amid Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian territory.

In a statement, Hastings said Gaza's humanitarian situation "is already dire and can only worsen" with the current escalation.

“Hostilities must stop to avoid more deaths and injuries of civilians in Gaza and Israel,” she added.

The humanitarian coordinator reiterated the UN appeal to all sides "for an immediate de-escalation and halt to violence to avoid destructive ramifications, particularly for civilians."

Israel launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday citing an "imminent threat of attack" by the Islamic Jihad group.

The attacks came amid rising tensions across Palestinian territories since Monday, when Israeli forces detained Bassam al-Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad, in a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

At least 29 Palestinians have been killed and over 250 others injured in the Israeli offensive, which triggered retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinians.

Home to 2.3 million people, the Gaza Strip has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, badly affecting livelihood in the territory.