A YORK-BASED international development charity is calling for help as it pledges to rebuild communities in Gaza, following weeks of conflict.

International Service, which has actively supported local projects in the occupied Palestinian territory for 50 years, is appealing for £50,000 to step up its activities in Gaza when the violence eases.

Israel and Hamas have just extended their ceasefire after prolonged violence in the region.

Chief executive officer Jo Baker said the conflict had had a devastating impact on the ability of local business, charities, family support agencies and community support groups to work effectively.

She stressed that her charity was not an emergency aid agency, which would be trying to help with issues such as food, water or shelter.

It would rather seek to work with local organisations to help them rebuild their communities, working in such areas as human rights advocacy, employability training and campaigns for better education provision.

Nor did the organisation take a political stance on the conflict with Israel. “Whatever your stance on this contentious issue, all we see is ordinary people that have had their lives torn apart by conflict, and we will use our expertise and experience in the region to contribute to the recovery effort," she said.

"International Service has a long history of working in Palestine and has strong, well established relationships with local people and community organisations.

"Following the current humanitarian disaster, we are planning additional long term support and investment to assist community projects in their recovery, and to rebuild their capacity to deliver the support that’s so badly needed by the people of Palestine."

A spokeswoman said International Service's most recent achievements in Palestine included the founding of a Careers Service at Birzeit University to support young Palestinians in improving their job prospects and earning potential.

The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies, said he was supportive of the charity's work, adding: "I’m proud that York is involved in the recovery operation - York is truly an international city."

To find out more and support International Service’s work in Palestine through a donation, go to their website at www.internationalservice.org.uk