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World

UN says food trucks being intercepted as hunger grows in Gaza

  • Israeli aggression has left besieged Gaza in ruins, killing more than 18,600 people, mostly women and children
Published December 14, 2023
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

GENEVA/GAZA STRIP: The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency said on Thursday that crowds of hungry people were stopping its aid trucks in Gaza and helping themselves to the food, making it almost impossible to continue delivering aid.

“People are stopping aid in trucks, taking the food and eating it right away. And this is how desperate and hungry they are,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, told reporters at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

This means that hundreds of thousands of people in overcrowded UN shelters in southern Gaza are sometimes deprived of food because it is intercepted before they arrive, Lazzarini said, speaking after a trip to Gaza.

“Hunger has now emerged over the last few weeks and we meet more and more people who haven’t eaten for one two or three days,” he added.

Eleven killed in days-long Israeli raid in West Bank: Palestinian health ministry

“Because there is more and more of a breakdown of civil order and as long as humanitarian assistance remains a crumble compared to the immensity of the needs, the more this tension will continue, the more the environment is becoming impossible,” he said.

The UN World Food Programme says that half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million is starving as Israel’s military assault on the southern part of the enclave expands and people are cut off from food, medicine and fuel.

Israel bombs Gaza as rift with US grows

Israel bombed Gaza on Thursday as a top White House advisor was due to arrive in Jerusalem with a rift growing over US calls for its ally to exercise restraint.

The aggression, now in its third month, began after the October 7 attacks on Israel by Palestinian group Hamas that Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Israeli aggression has left besieged Gaza in ruins, killing more than 18,600 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry, and devastating homes, roads, schools and hospitals.

The ministry said that Israeli air strikes early Thursday had killed at least 19 people across the Gaza Strip.

In the occupied West Bank, which has also seen a surge in violence since October 7, the Palestinian Authority said two people were killed in Israeli strikes in the city of Jenin.

US President Joe Biden, whose government has provided billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, on Wednesday gave his sharpest rebuke of the war yet, saying Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza was weakening international support.

EU chief urges sanctions on ‘extremist’ Israeli West Bank settlers

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his offensive, vowing “we are going until the end, until victory, nothing less than that”.

And Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the war against Hamas would continue “with or without international support”.

On Thursday, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was due to arrive in Jerusalem for talks with Netanyahu and his war cabinet.

Sullivan told a Wall Street Journal event ahead of his trip he would discuss a timetable to end the war and urge Israeli leaders “to move to a different phase from the kind of high-intensity operations that we see today”.

Netanyahu has said there is also “disagreement” with Washington over how a post-conflict Gaza would be governed.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday “any arrangement in Gaza or in the Palestinian cause without Hamas or the resistance factions is a delusion”.

He said Hamas was ready for talks that could lead to a “political path that secures the right of the Palestinian people to their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital”.

‘Darkest chapter’

Diplomatic pressure is mounting on Israel to better protect civilians, with the UN General Assembly this week overwhelmingly backing a non-binding resolution for a ceasefire.

While Washington voted against, the resolution was supported by allies Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who, in a rare joint statement, said they were “alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza”.

CNN reported on Wednesday citing US intelligence that nearly half of the air-to-ground munitions used by Israel in Gaza since October 7 have been unguided, which can pose a greater threat to civilians.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, said on Wednesday that Gazans were “facing the darkest chapter of their history”.

Wintry rain lashed the territory, where the UN estimates 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million population have been displaced, living in makeshift tents as supplies of food, drinking water, medicines and fuel run low.

Ameen Edwan said his family was camped out with thousands in the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in central Gaza.

“Rainwater seeped in. We couldn’t sleep. We tried to find nylon covers but couldn’t find any, so we resorted to stones and sand” to keep the water out, he said.

Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinians in West Bank: health ministry

“We spent five days outdoors. And now the rain has flooded the tents,” said a displaced resident, Bilal al-Qassas.

Gusts of wind shook the fragile structures, while people tried to reinforce them with more plastic sheeting.

“Where do we migrate to? Our dignity is gone. Where do women relieve themselves? There are no bathrooms,” said 41-year-old Qassas.

The UN warned the spread of diseases – including meningitis, jaundice and upper respiratory tract infections – had intensified.

Gaza’s hospital system is in ruins, and Hamas said vaccines for children had run out, warning of “catastrophic health repercussions”.

The health ministry said Israeli forces opened fire on wards of Kamal Adwan hospital in north Gaza.

The army has yet to comment, but Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using hospitals, schools, mosques and vast tunnel systems beneath them as military bases – charges it denies.

Growing troop toll

In Israel, the army is coming under growing pressure to limit troop deaths and secure the release of hostages.

It has lost 115 soldiers, including 10 on Tuesday, its deadliest day since the ground assault began on October 27.

In the October 7 attack – the deadliest in Israel’s 75-year history – Hamas also seized around 240 hostages.

Hamas released dozens of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a week-long truce last month, but others have been found dead.

Gaza health ministry says out of children’s vaccines

Families of hostages said Wednesday they had demanded “an immediate explanation from the Prime Minister and cabinet members” after local media reported that the government had rejected a proposal to send officials to Qatar for a second round of hostage negotiations.

Israel’s embassy in Romania on Wednesday announced the death of Israeli-Romanian Tal Haimi, 41, who was held in Gaza.

Washington and London announced further sanctions Wednesday against Hamas, targeting “key officials who perpetuate Hamas’s violent agenda”.

UN labels Gaza ‘hell on earth’ as Israel bombs more areas

Fears of the conflict broadening remain, with daily incidents along Israel’s border with Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah is based.

Comments

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Ryan Dec 15, 2023 01:13am
How quickly the shocking atrocities on 7 October, committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians is forgotten as the liberal and woke world lament the destruction of Israeli enemies. Boo flippin hoo… don’t stop till Hamas is wiped off the face of the earth.
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