GAZA STRIP: The main UN aid agency in besieged Gaza warned it will have to stop operations by the end of Wednesday because it is running out of fuel as Hamas said the death toll from Israeli strikes had surged by more than 700 in a single day.

Alarm has grown about the spiralling humanitarian crisis in the heavily bombarded Gaza Strip where one doctor said he was forced to perform emergency surgery on the wounded without anaesthetic.

Israel has cut off impoverished Gaza’s usual water, food and other supplies, and fewer than 70 relief trucks have entered since the war started — “a drop of aid in an ocean of need”, warned UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Israel has bombed Gaza in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas who, while firing a massive rocket barrage, killed more than 1,400 people and took 222 hostages on October 7, according to Israeli authorities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “eliminate Hamas” and Israeli strikes have now killed more than 6,500 people in Gaza, a rise of over 700 since Tuesday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Inside the battered Palestinian territory, Abu Ali Zaarab, whose family house in Rafah was bombed, charged angrily that “they’re not waging war on Hamas, they’re waging war on children... It’s a massacre.”

Tempers flared earlier at the United Nations where Guterres decried the “epic suffering” in Gaza and the “collective punishment” of its 2.4 million people, drawing a furious response from Israel.

“Mr secretary-general, in what world do you live?” replied an infuriated Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who recounted graphic accounts of civilians including young children killed in the deadliest single attack in Israeli history.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on Guterres to resign, writing on X, formerly Twitter, that the UN chief had “expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder”.

US President Joe Biden — who has strongly backed Israel’s war after what he called the “barbaric” Hamas attacks, but also brokered the entry of relief trucks via Egypt — shared the concern that the aid lifeline is “not fast enough”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “food, water, medicine and other essential humanitarian assistance must be able to flow into Gaza” and that “humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes”.

As the Gaza war has raged, violence has also risen sharply in the occupied West Bank, where health officials said more than 100 Palestinians had been killed, mostly in raids by Israeli troops or in clashes with Israeli settlers.

On the 19th day of Israeli air and artillery strikes and a near-total land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA warned operations are at breaking point.

“If we do not get fuel urgently, we will be forced to halt our operations in the Gaza Strip,” said the agency which provides aid to 600,000 displaced in Gaza, where many families have slept in the open.

Israel has refused to allow fuel shipments into Gaza, fearing Hamas will use it for weapons and explosives and accusing the group of stockpiling supplies in large tanks.

Aid groups have warned that more people will die if medical equipment, water desalination plants and ambulances stop running in Gaza, where the only power plant went offline weeks ago.

Patients are already being treated on the floors of hospitals overwhelmed with thousands wounded by bombing. The Red Cross has warned that hospitals, once the generators stop running, “turn into morgues”.

“We performed a number of surgeries on the wounded without anaesthetic,” said Ahmad Abdul Hadi, an orthopaedic surgeon working in the emergency room of Nasser hospital, Khan Yunis.


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