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UN humanitarian chief issues ‘apocalyptic’ warning over Gaza aid | Gaza


Emergency relief coordinator says famine looms as Israeli Rafah offensive blocks vital aid routes

Sun May 19, 2024 12:17 p.m. EDT

The United Nations humanitarian chief has warned of “apocalyptic” consequences due to the lack of aid in Gaza, where the Israeli military offensive in the southern town of Rafah has blocked food supplies we desperately needed.

“If fuel runs out, aid does not reach people where they need it. This famine that we have been talking about for so long and which is looming will no longer be. She will be there,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told AFP on the sidelines of meetings with Qatari officials in Doha.

“And I think our concern, as citizens of the international community, is that the consequences will be very difficult indeed. Difficult, difficult and apocalyptic.

Griffith said 50 aid trucks a day could reach the hardest-hit people in northern Gaza via the reopened Erez crossing on the northern border. However, he added, fighting near the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings in southern Gaza had effectively blocked vital roads.

“So the aid arriving via land routes to the south and to Rafah, and the people dislodged by Rafah, is almost zero,” Griffiths added. “And we have all said it very clearly: an operation in Rafah is a disaster in humanitarian terms, a disaster for the people already displaced in Rafah. This is now their fourth or fifth trip,” he said.

With major land crossings closed, some relief supplies began flowing in this week via a temporary floating pier built by the United States. Griffiths said the maritime operation was starting to deliver aid trucks, but he cautioned: “This is no replacement for land routes. »

Cogat, an agency of Israel’s Defense Ministry, said Saturday it was facilitating the delivery of food, water and aid to Gaza, including “hundreds of tents” for displaced people. However, humanitarian agencies have repeatedly stated that their operations are regularly hampered by Israeli authorities.

Israeli tanks and warplanes continued to bombard parts of Rafah over the weekend, while the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they fired anti-tank missiles and mortars at massed Israeli forces there. east, to the southeast and inside the Rafah border post. with Egypt.

An Israeli airstrike killed 20 people in central Gaza on Sunday, most of them women and children, according to records at Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital in the neighboring town of Deir al-Balah, where the bodies were transported. Another airstrike in Nuseirat killed five more people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency services.

In Deir al-Balah, another strike claimed the lives of Zahed al-Houli, a high-ranking officer in the Hamas-controlled police force, and another person, as reported by the Hamas Martyrs Hospital. ‘Al-Aqsa. The Guardian was unable to independently verify these claims.

Reports indicate intensified airstrikes and fighting in northern Gaza, an area that has been largely cordoned off by Israeli forces for several months.

Footage released by rescuers in the Beit Lahiya area showed efforts to recover a woman’s body from the rubble against a backdrop of explosions and smoke, while residents of the nearby Jabaliya urban refugee camp, recounted a relentless onslaught of artillery fire and airstrikes.

Medical sources told the Palestinian Wafa news agency that Israeli forces were besieging al-Awda hospital in Jabaliya and that treatment could not be provided to the sick and injured.

“The situation is very difficult,” said Abdel-Kareem Radwan, a 48-year-old man from Jabaliya. He said the entire eastern part of the city had become a combat zone where Israeli warplanes “hit everything that moves.”

Mahmoud Bassal, a civil defense spokesman, said rescuers had recovered at least 150 bodies, more than half of them women and children, since Israel launched the operation in Jabaliya last week. According to him, around 300 houses were completely destroyed.

In Israel, anti-government protesters organized a rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There has been some frustration over the failure of efforts to free hostages held in Gaza.

Netanyahu also faces internal divisions within his government. On Saturday, War Minister Benny Gantz threatened to resign if Netanyahu failed to adopt an agreed plan for Gaza, calling into question the future of the Israeli government.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

News Source : amp.theguardian.com
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