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Palestine Minister says 'humanitarian catastrophe' unfolding in Gaza

February 20, 2024 at 3:56 pm

Palestinians set out with their belongings from Ez-Zeytun neighborhood towards Shifa Hospital, which was previously raided by Israel, due to the re-entry of Israeli ground forces into some areas in Ez-Zeytun neighborhood, north of Gaza City, Gaza on February 20, 2024 [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Social Development Minister, Ahmed Mecdelani, has called the situation unfolding in Gaza since 7 October a “humanitarian catastrophe”, calling for an immediate ceasefire, Anadolu Agency reports.

Speaking to Anadolu, Mecdelani detailed the extent of the devastation, with over 1.8 million Palestinians displaced and more than 300,000 homes destroyed.

Those dead, wounded and missing exceed 110,000, 70 per cent of whom are women and children, he said.

Moreover, 70 per cent of the infrastructure has been destroyed, he added. This includes three churches, more than 162 mosques, 205 schools and 11 universities, he said.

Dire situation in Rafah

Mecdelani shed light on the dire situation in Rafah, emphasising targeted attacks on vital facilities like hospitals, universities and places of worship, aggravating the crisis further.

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With 1.8 million Palestinians enduring harsh conditions in Rafah, Mecdelani said that incoming aid barely covers 10 per cent of the population’s needs.

“Approximately 400,000 people are living in bad weather conditions because they cannot find a centre to accommodate them.’’

He pointed out overcrowding in Rafah, with 29,000-30,000 people per square kilometre with an area of 55,000 square meters.

If an attack were to be launched on Rafah, it would mean the collective killing of Palestinians by Israel.

Criticising Israel’s preference for a military over a political solution, Mecdelani accused Israel of seeking to deport hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to Egypt instead of pursuing a ceasefire and prisoner exchange.

International Community’s will subject to US veto

Mecdelani criticised the role of the international community, particularly the influence of the US.

He decried the lack of meaningful intervention, attributing it to America’s unwavering support for Israel, which has bolstered its military actions and marginalised global peace efforts.

Mecdelani argued that America’s dominance stifles international consensus, allowing for continued Israeli aggression.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the international community. There is only the veto of America, which seizes the will of the international community.

He highlighted the double standards in global diplomacy, noting the disparity in responses between conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the situation in Gaza, where Israel receives support instead of sanctions.

Turkiye’s significant role

Mecdelani praised Turkiye’s significant role in supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza, highlighting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership and Turkiye’s humanitarian aid efforts.

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He stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration between Turkiye and Palestine to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

Acknowledging Turkiye’s clear political stance in international forums and its active role in organisations such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Mecdelani expressed gratitude for Turkiye’s humanitarian assistance and its acceptance of injured Palestinians.

He also noted the positive coordination between the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development and its Turkish counterpart, citing recent joint efforts to assist injured Palestinian children in Turkiye.

Call to international community

Mecdelani issued a call for action to the international community to halt the Israeli aggression, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need, chart a path towards lasting political solution and the end of Occupation.

“This war, with all its tragedies and difficulties, should pave the way for the declaration of the Palestinian State,’’ he said.

Mecdelani also stressed the necessity of collective efforts to secure lasting peace and stability in the region.

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