A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held into a third day on Sunday as mediators spoke to all sides about extending the period of calm after the worst outbreak of fighting in years.

Egyptian mediators have been shuttling between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, to try to sustain the ceasefire and have also met the Islamist group’s rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the occupied West Bank.

Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for the Palestinian territories, said on Sunday the UN would launch an appeal to repair the damage in densely populated Gaza, where there is a threat of Covid-19 spreading.

“The escalation has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, generated by nearly 14 years of blockade and internal political divisions, alongside recurrent hostilities,” she said in a statement issued from the Palestinian enclave.

“We must also ensure support to continue addressing needs that already existed, including those arising from the ongoing pandemic.”

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