UN Official in Gaza: Hard work starts now

The Gaza director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has spoken to NHK about the ceasefire that took effect on Friday between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas.

Matthias Schmale says civilians in the Gaza Strip have borne the brunt of the conflict, and warned there's a long way to go to achieve lasting peace.

He said, "We have to now start the difficult work of helping to rebuild not just buildings, but people, their souls."

Schmale also warned that there could be another escalation, unless the underlying reasons for the tensions are not addressed, especially among young people.

The ceasefire, mediated by Egypt, ends 11 days of violence during which 232 people were killed in Gaza, and 12 in Israel.

Schmale acknowledged the international community's role in realizing the truce. He is calling for a meaningful political process in the region, together with financial aid for vital agencies.

The Egyptian government plans to send delegations to both sides to monitor the situation.