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UN says life in Gaza getting 'more and more wretched'

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Life in Gaza is getting "more and more wretched" after a decade of Hamas rule and a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade, a U.N. report said Tuesday.

The report was highly critical of the Islamic militant group, accusing it of "substantial human rights violations."

"Gaza has continued on its trajectory of de-development, in many cases even faster than we had originally projected." Robert Piper, the U.N. coordinator for aid in the Palestinian territories, said in the report. In 2012, the U.N. said Gaza could be "unlivable" by 2020.

Hamas seized Gaza from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Israel and Egypt have since maintained a system of closures that has sharply limited travel and trade, saying the measures are needed to prevent Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, from arming.

The report said access has been further hindered by the "military buildup in Gaza by Hamas and other militant groups, which continued and intensified over the past decade," including the stockpiling of rockets with ever greater range and the construction of "sophisticated tunnels used for kidnappings and terrorist attacks in Israel."

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since it seized power, most recently in the summer of 2014. Parts of Gaza are still devastated from the fighting.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said the report proves that Hamas has "brought nothing but pain and destruction to the residents of Gaza."

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