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ICRC Says Palestinians Trapped in Gaza Face Rising Poverty, Despair

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says many Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are not able to rebuild their lives and are sliding deeper into despair.

In a report released Monday, the ICRC says stringent import restrictions by the Israeli government are hampering reconstruction efforts by donors who have pledged nearly $4.5 million.

The report, which comes six months after the end of Israel's military offensive in Gaza, says many seriously ill patients are not getting the treatments they need.

The Red Cross is urging Israeli authorities to lift restrictions and allow medical supplies and building materials into the territory.

Israel says it launched the Gaza offensive to stop Palestinian militants from firing rockets into Israel. The fighting killed 13 Israelis and at least 1,300 Palestinians.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is holding its second day of public hearings Monday as part of an investigation into possible war crimes committed by the Israeli military and Hamas militants during the offensive.

Also Monday, a group of international activists is sailing from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip in an effort to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians.

The 21 activists from the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement are expected to arrive in the territory on Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.