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Israel denies ordering WHO to move medical supplies in Gaza

December 5, 2023 at 5:52 pm

Dozens of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid are seen waiting for entry to Gaza from the Rafah Border Crossing in Egypt on November 30, 2023 [Ferdi Bayat – Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli military refuted claims that it had instructed the World Health Organisation (WHO) to remove supplies from its warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours “as ground operations will put it beyond use”.

The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said yesterday that Israel ordered it to empty medical warehouses in the southern Gaza Strip, warning about an impending humanitarian crisis as Israeli forces expand their war against Hamas.

He wrote on X: “WHO received notification from the Israeli forces that we should remove our supplies from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours, as ground operations will put it beyond use.”

He went on to appeal to Israel to withdraw the order and take every possible measure to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and humanitarian facilities.

In response, COGAT, the Israeli Defence Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said on X: “The truth is that we didn’t ask you to evacuate the warehouses and we also made it clear [and in writing] to the relevant UN representatives.”

It added: “From a #UN official we would expect, at least, to be more accurate.”

It comes after the head of the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) warned that Israel’s attacks on the southern Gaza Strip could push one million Palestinian refugees towards the Egyptian border.

“If there is fighting there is indeed a higher likelihood that they might wish to flee further south and beyond the border,” UNRWA quoted its Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini as saying in an interview with the Guardian.

“We have 1 million people, 1 million people in UN installations, including 100,000 in the north,” Lazzarini added. His remarks followed the resumption of Israeli attacks in the Palestinian enclave after the end of a week-long humanitarian pause.

The number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s relentless air and ground attacks since 7 October is now nearly 16,000, with more than 42,000 others injured.

READ: Gaza families flee again to shrinking, overcrowded pocket of land