Hamas official calls for halt to war on Gaza, opening humanitarian aid crossings

  • Only a few dozen trucks carrying food, medicine and water have entered Gaza via the southern border with Egypt since a deal entered into operation on Saturday
Published October 24, 2023
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

BEIRUT/GENEVA/GAZA STRIP: Hamas official Osama Hamdan urged Arab, Islamic countries and the United Nations to try to halt Israel’s assault on Gaza, in a press conference held in Beirut on Tuesday.

Hamdan also called on Arab countries to end any normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel-Hamas war risks ‘serious’ economic damage: World Bank president

The official called for humanitarian aid crossings to be opened, allowing fuel, aid and rubble removal equipment into Gaza.

The Hamas said earlier that Israeli air strikes on the besieged territory during the night killed at least 140 people.

A statement from the government’s media office said “more than 140 people were martyred and hundreds wounded in massacres committed by the occupation (Israel) raids”.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Tuesday that 5,791 people have been killed in the territory since the outbreak of war with Israel.

The death toll includes 2,360 children. A total of 16,297 people have also been wounded since the conflict erupted on October 7.

Army chief meets Palestinian envoy, expresses concern over Israel’s ‘unabated violence’ in Gaza

UN urges improved coordination on Gaza aid

Meanwhile, the United Nations called for improved coordination among humanitarian groups in making sure the small amount of aid now moving into the Gaza Strip contained only the most needed items.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said that some of the food delivered into Gaza so far, such as rice and lentils, had been impractical given the dwindling availability of fresh water and fuel.

Israel has also cut off water, food, fuel and energy supplies to Gaza, and only a trickle of aid has been allowed in from Egypt in recent days under a US-brokered deal.

“An additional challenge in a very limited flow of supplies is that we are not really receiving the most needed supplies for Gaza, or the most relevant,” UNRWA spokeswoman Tamara Alrifai said.

“In one of the shipments over the last couple of days, we received boxes of rice and lentils,” she told journalists at the UN in Geneva via video-link from the Jordanian capital Amman, where UNRWA has its headquarters.

“But for people to cook lentils and rice, they need water and gas. And therefore these kinds of supplies – while very generous and well intended – are not very usable right now,” she said.

Alrifai added that before October 7, around 500 trucks a day were entering Gaza from Israel and Egypt, with a mixture of commercial goods, food, aid and fuel.

But only a few dozen trucks carrying food, medicine and water have entered Gaza via the southern border with Egypt since a deal entered into operation on Saturday.

“We will need to get better as a consortium of humanitarians in sending very explicit lists of what is most needed,” Alrifai said.

Fuel concerns

The UN has warned that more hospitals and other vital services in the Palestinian territory risked shutting down without fuel deliveries.

Israel worries that Hamas would use fuel brought into Gaza to manufacture weapons and explosives.

Alrifai said fuel crossings into Gaza could be logistically handled by UNRWA, which was obliged to report any misuse.

“When we at UNRWA receive fuel or any other equipment, we are accountable for its handling. A couple of close donors, close countries did raise the security question… we are obligated to report to them any misuse that we see, or any risk,” she said.

Alrifai said UNRWA had in place a “very sturdy diligence system to make sure that everything we receive is only used for humanitarian purposes”.

Medical aid

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had been unable to distribute any life-saving health supplies from the truck convoys to major hospitals in northern Gaza, because of a lack of security guarantees.

It said the main Al-Shifa hospital in the north now had three patients for every two beds.

“In addition to the hospitals that have had to close due to damage and attacks, six hospitals across the Gaza Strip have already shut down due to lack of fuel,” the WHO said in a statement.

Medical supplies have been delivered to four hospitals in southern Gaza and medics “took boxes of supplies off the trucks and straight into operating theatres, where doctors have been performing surgeries without anaesthesia or other basic surgical supplies”, the agency said.


Comments are closed.

TidBit Oct 24, 2023 09:08pm
If you want the bombings to stop, release the hostages now!
thumb_up Recommended (0)
Usman Oct 25, 2023 04:13am
@TidBit, what a coward killing innocent to secure the release of hostages if you IDF (Indian or Israeli defense forces) have a courage come and face Hamas.
thumb_up Recommended (0)