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Dhaka Tribune

UN: Many more to die from Gaza siege

  • Gaza death toll rises to 7,326
  • Medics and 10 trucks of water, food and medicine enter Gaza
  • UN says 57 of its relief workers killed so far in Gaza
  • Hamas says Israeli forces attempted beach landing
Update : 28 Oct 2023, 12:00 AM

The UN warned on Friday that "many more will die" in Gaza from catastrophic shortages after nearly three weeks of bombardment by Israel in response to Hamas resistance campaign.

And it raised the alarm over "war crimes" being committed as the Israel-Hamas conflict raged into its 21st day. The army said it had mounted another brief land incursion into Gaza as it prepares for a ground offensive.

Concern is growing about regional fallout from the conflict, with the United States warning Iran against escalation while striking facilities in Syria it says were used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and others.

Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza since Hamas launched a resistance campaign on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

On Friday, the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, said the strikes had now killed 7,326 people, mainly civilians and many of them children.

The top UN official providing aid to Palestinian refugees in Gaza says people there "feel shunned, alienated and abandoned."

Israel has cut supplies of food, water and power to Gaza, notably blocking all deliveries of fuel saying it would be exploited by Hamas to manufacture weapons and explosives.

"People in Gaza are dying, they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of (the) siege," said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

"Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage," Lazzarini said of the overcrowded territory where 45% of housing is reported to have been damaged or destroyed.

In Geneva, the UN human rights office raised the alarm over war crimes, saying "the atrocious attacks by Hamas... amounted to war crimes" but also pointing to Israel's Gaza bombardment.

"Nowhere is safe in Gaza. Compelling people to evacuate in these circumstances... and while under a complete siege raises serious concerns over forcible transfer, which is a war crime," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

And a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding for Gazans who were "being collectively punished" which "is a war crime," she said.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a "humanitarian truce" for the protection of civilians in Gaza.

On Friday, a first team of six medics from the International Committee of the Red Cross entered Gaza via its Rafah crossing with Egypt, along with six aid trucks, the ICRC said.

‘Nothing more than crumbs’

A first tranche of critically needed aid was allowed in at the weekend, but since then only 74 trucks have crossed. Before the conflict, the UN says an average of 500 trucks were entering Gaza every day.

"These few trucks are nothing more than crumbs that will not make a difference," Lazzarini said, insisting Gaza needed a "meaningful and uninterrupted aid flow" and a "humanitarian ceasefire to ensure this aid reaches those in need."

His words echoed an EU leaders' call on Thursday for "continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid" to those in need via "humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs."

Between the bombardments and the fuel shortages, 12 of Gaza's 35 hospitals have been forced to close, and UNRWA said it has had to "significantly reduce its operations." The agency also said 57 of its staff had been killed since the war began.

With tens of thousands of Israeli troops massed along the Gaza border ahead of a widely expected ground offensive, the army said it had staged another brief ground incursion into Gaza, the second in as many days.

"We carried out a ground operation in central Gaza... as part of preparations for the coming stages of the war," the army's Hagari added. The first incursion had targeted northern Gaza.

Hamas also said Israeli troops had tried to stage "a large-scale amphibious operation on Rafah's coast" in southern Gaza at dawn but it had been thwarted, saying the soldiers had "fled by sea, leaving behind a quantity of weapons."

Despite Israel's call for civilians in northern Gaza to move south for their safety, strikes have continued to hit southern areas, with many saying they could find nowhere to shelter.

Violence has also risen sharply in the occupied West Bank since the October 7 attacks, with more than 100 Palestinians killed and over 1,900 wounded.

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