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More than 570,000 people are starving in Gaza due to war fallout, UN report says

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — More than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are dying of hunger, according to a report released Thursday by the U.N. and other agencies that highlights the humanitarian crisis caused by The bombing of Israel and the siege of the territory in response to the Hamas attack on October 7.

The scale of hunger among the population has even eclipsed the near-famines that have occurred in Afghanistan and Yemen in recent years, according to the report’s figures. The report warns that the risk of famine “increases every day”, placing blame on the famine. insufficient aid entering Gaza.

“The situation cannot be worse,” said Arif Husain, chief economist of the U.N. World Food Program. “I have never seen anything on this large scale happen in Gaza. And at this speed.

Israel says it is in the final stages of eliminate Hamas militants in northern Gaza, but months of fighting lie ahead in the south.

The war started by Hamas murderous rampage of October 7 and hostage-taking in Israel killed nearly 20,000 Palestinians. Some 1.9 million Gaza residents – more than 80% of the population – have been driven from their homes, with many crowded into UN shelters.

The war has also pushed Gaza’s health sector to collapse. Only nine of its 36 health facilities are still partially operating, all located in the south, according to the World Health Organization. WHO rescue workers reported “unbearable” scenes on Thursday in two hospitals they visited in northern Gaza: bedridden patients with untreated wounds demanding water, the few remaining doctors and nurses unable to help. have no supplies and the bodies are lined up in the yard.

The bombings and fighting continued on Thursday, and the Internet and communications, cut off for several days, gradually began to return throughout the territory.

Members of the UN Security Council we are negotiating an Arab-sponsored resolution for a cessation of fighting to allow increased aid deliveries. A vote on the resolution has been postponed twice this week hoping to get the United States to support it or let it pass after vetoing a previous ceasefire call.

The U.N. report released Thursday highlighted the failure of weeks of U.S. efforts to ensure more aid reached the Palestinians. At the start of the war, Israel stopped all deliveries of food, water, medicine and fuel to the territory. Under pressure from the United States, she authorized the arrival of aid via Egypt. But UN agencies say only 10% of Gaza’s food needs have arrived in weeks.

This week, Israel began allowing aid into Gaza through its Kerem Shalom crossing, increasing the number of trucks entering from around 100 a day to around 190 on Wednesday, according to the UN. But an explosion Thursday morning hit the Palestinian side of the terminal. , forcing the UN to stop its aid collections there, according to Juliette Touma, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. At least four people were killed, a nearby hospital reported. Palestinian authorities blamed Israel for the explosion, but the cause could not immediately be confirmed.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Israel was working to increase its inspection of aid trucks to 300 or 400 a day and blamed the UN for delivery failures. The amount of aid could triple “if the UN, instead of complaining all day, did its job”, he said, without specifying what more the UN should do.

Egypt’s Rafah terminal has limited capacity for trucks. U.N. officials say that delivering aid to much of Gaza has become difficult, if not impossible, because of the fighting, and that more than 130 U.N. staff have been killed.

The report released Thursday by 23 UN and non-governmental agencies reveals that Gaza’s entire population is in a food crisis, with 576,600 people living at catastrophic – or famine – levels. “This is a situation where virtually everyone in Gaza is hungry,” said Husain, an economist with the World Food Program.

“People are very, very close to big outbreaks because their immune systems have become very weak because they’re not getting enough nutrition,” he said.

Israel has vowed to continue the offensive until it destroys Hamas’s military capabilities and returns the many hostages captured by Palestinian militants their rampage of October 7. Hamas and other militants killed some 1,200 people that day, mostly civilians, and captured about 240 others.

Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into central Israel on Thursday, showing that its military capabilities remain formidable. No casualties or damage were immediately reported.

The United States continued to support the Israeli campaign while calling for greater efforts to protect civilians. The United States wants Israel to move toward more targeted operations targeting Hamas leaders and the group’s tunnel network.

The Ministry of Health in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said Tuesday that the death toll since the start of the war stood at more than 19,600. It does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.

On Wednesday, WHO delivered supplies to Ahli and Shifa hospitals in northern Gaza, where Israeli troops demolished large sections of the city while fighting Hamas militants.

Israeli forces have attacked a series of health facilities in the north in recent weeks, detaining men for questioning and expelling others. On Thursday, troops stormed the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance center in the Jabaliya refugee camp, taking away paramedics and paramedics, the group said.

At some health facilities, patients who cannot be moved remain, along with limited staff who can do little beyond first aid, according to U.N. and health officials.

Ahli Hospital is “a place where people wait to die,” said Sean Casey, a member of the WHO team who visited the two hospitals on Wednesday. Five doctors and five nurses as well as around 80 patients remain in Ahli, he said.

All the hospital buildings are damaged, with the exception of two buildings where patients are now housed: the orthopedics department and a church on the grounds, he explained.

Inside the church, it was “an unbearable scene,” he said. Patients with traumatic injuries struggled with infections. Others had suffered amputations. “Patients were screaming in pain, but they were also asking us to give them water,” he said.

The Israeli army says 137 of its soldiers were killed during the Gaza ground offensive. Israel claims to have killed some 7,000 militants, without providing evidence. He blames the high number of civilian deaths in Gaza on Hamas, saying it uses them as human shields when fighting in residential areas.

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Jeffery reported from Cairo, Barry from Milan, Italy. Associated Press writers Lee Keath in Cairo and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.

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See more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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