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UN official warns ongoing hostilities in Gaza have ‘grave’ humanitarian consequences

October 10, 2023 at 2:25 pm

A view of a wrecked vehicles after Israeli airstrikes at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza Strip on 09 October 2023 [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

The magnitude of the ongoing hostilities in Gaza has led to grave humanitarian consequences in the enclave, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories has warned. Homes, schools, medical facilities and other infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed, said Lynn Hastings.

The UN official explained that at least 200,000 of the 2.2 million Palestinian residents in Gaza have been displaced after fleeing for fear of their lives or because their houses were destroyed by Israeli air strikes. Most of them are taking shelter in UNRWA’s schools, at least two of which have already been damaged by air strikes in the area. The number of those affected by the hostilities is only expected to increase.

“Moreover, the Israeli authorities have cut their water supply to Gaza, reducing an already scarce availability of potable water. And in accordance with the complete siege ordered by the Israeli government on Gaza, access to electricity, food and fuel has also been cut, worsening the already dire humanitarian situation.” Palestinians in Gaza, Hastings pointed out, now only have electricity for 3-4 hours per day. “This hinders the ability of health facilities to function and treat those injured.”

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The UN and its humanitarian partners in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are working to meet acute needs, in particular shelter, in dangerous circumstances. However, access for humanitarian staff and supplies into Gaza has also been cut and the intensity of the hostilities is limiting the ability of staff to deliver aid.

“As the security and humanitarian situations continue to escalate, all parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” insisted the UN official. “All military and armed groups must abide by the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution when conducting their operations.”

Civilians, she added, especially children, medical facilities, humanitarian personnel, health workers and journalists must also be protected. “Captured civilians must be released immediately and unconditionally. Indeed, anyone captured or detained, including combatants, must be treated humanely and with dignity. All relevant actors must allow humanitarian teams and goods to immediately and safely reach the hundreds of thousands of people in need.”

READ: UNRWA says 137,000 displaced Palestinians seek refuge in Gaza schools