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GENEVA: The population of Gaza is in "grave peril", the head of the World Health Organization warned Wednesday, citing acute hunger and desperation throughout the war-torn Palestinian territory.

The WHO said it delivered supplies to two hospitals on Tuesday -- one in the north and one in the south -- with 21 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip no longer functioning at all.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the international community to take "urgent steps to alleviate the grave peril facing the population of Gaza and jeopardising the ability of humanitarian workers to help people with terrible injuries, acute hunger, and at severe risk of disease".

Gaza war sees regional tensions spike

In a statement, the WHO said its staff reported Tuesday that the need for food "continues to be acute" across the Gaza Strip, while "hungry people again stopped our convoys today in the hope of finding food".

"WHO's ability to supply medicines, medical supplies, and fuel to hospitals is being increasingly constrained by the hunger and desperation of people en route to, and within, hospitals we reach."

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7 and killed about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

They took 250 hostages, of whom 129 remain inside Gaza, according to Israeli officials, in the worst attack in the country's history.

Israel launched extensive aerial bombardment and a siege followed by a ground invasion. The campaign has killed at least 21,110 people, mostly women and children, according to Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry.

"The safety of our staff and continuity of operations depends on more food arriving in all of Gaza, immediately," Tedros said.

Last week's United Nations Security Council resolution called for the "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale" -- but did not call for an immediate end to fighting.

Tedros said the resolution "appeared to provide hope of an improvement in humanitarian aid distribution within Gaza.

"However, based on WHO eyewitness accounts on the ground, the resolution is tragically yet to have an impact.

"What we urgently need, right now, is a ceasefire to spare civilians from further violence and begin the long road towards reconstruction and peace."

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