U.N. envoy condemns rocket firing from Gaza into Israel

A senior U.N. official voiced concern on Wednesday about renewed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and an increasingly volatile situation on the ground in the region.

Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the latest rocket firings represent a breach of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt in November. The agreement ended eight days of violence in Gaza and Israel.

"The United Nations condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas and calls on Israel to act with restraint," Serry said. "It is of paramount importance to refrain from violence in this tense atmosphere and for parties to work constructively in addressing the underlying issues,"

The renewed violence risked undermining an understanding reached between Israel and Gaza and rolling back the tangible improvements achieved since then in easing the closure and the security situation in southern Israel and Gaza.

"The United Nations will continue to support Egyptian efforts to restore the calm and fully implement the ceasefire understanding as the only viable way to address the unsustainable situation in Gaza," Serry said.

Meanwhile, more than 7,000 refugee families in Gaza will receive financial aid from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The funding will reconstruct and repair homes that were damaged during the November conflict. The Saudi Fund for Development donated $15.6 million toward the cause.

"We are very happy and pleased that only four months after the conflict and the damage or destruction of these shelters, we are able to distribute the cash subsidies to the affected 7,000 refugee families," Robert Turner, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, said. "We have never before been able to provide this scale of support for war-damaged refugees' shelters in such a short time. We are very thankful for this quick and generous donation by the Saudi Fund for Development."