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February 21, 2024

Gaza Faces Imminent Famine As 100-Day War Rages On

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Jan 21, 2024

UN Pleads For Access As Crisis Reaches “Breaking Point”

The Gaza Strip is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as Israel’s military campaign against Hamas enters its 100th day, with United Nations officials warning the territory could plunge into full-blown famine within weeks if immediate action is not taken.

According to figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 800 civilians have been killed since fighting erupted on October 15th last year, including at least 250 children. An estimated 500,000 people have been displaced in what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk described as “the largest forced displacement event faced by any civilian population since 1948.”

In a scathing address to the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, Türk stated that both Israeli and Palestinian forces have likely committed war crimes during what has become the longest military confrontation between the two sides this century.

“The complete disregard for civilian life on both sides violates the basic tenets of international law. All indications are that international law is being ignored in Gaza,” Türk said.

Displaced Gazans 500,000+
Civilian Deaths 800+
Duration 100+ days

His comments come as senior UN officials sounded the alarm on a looming famine in Gaza, warning that without immediate humanitarian access the crisis could spin out of control within a matter of weeks.

Gaza Faces Imminent Famine

Mark Lowcock, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said the threat of widespread disease and starvation is now “higher than ever” as critical infrastructure across Gaza lies in ruins.

“Make no mistake, famine exists in Gaza. No electricity, no water, no sewage treatment, no heat. Gaza is cut off from the world by land, sea and air,” Lowcock told reporters on Monday. “The situation is dire and if the war continues, the human cost will be devastating.”

Lowcock’s warnings were echoed by the head of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, who labeled the crisis as “the worst humanitarian disaster faced by any civilian population this century.” He estimated that over 70% of Gazans are now dependent on humanitarian aid to survive while hundreds of thousands face imminent starvation if immediate action isn’t taken.

“If food trucks arrive in Gaza, they are immediately set upon and pillaged,” Beasley said. “The people of Gaza are in a desperate fight for survival that gets more challenging by the day.”

Aid Groups Denied Access To Gaza

According to the UN, over 95% of Gaza’s 2 million populace now rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. However mounting violence and sweeping Israeli restrictions have left most major aid organizations unable to deliver relief into the territory for nearly eight weeks.

Of the three main border crossings into Gaza, only one – the Erez crossing in the north – remains partially open for select humanitarian supplies and medical evacuations. But with fierce fighting nearby, UN officials say access is extremely limited.

“The precarious opening at Erez crossing remains inadequate for the enormity of needs. At current capacity, it would take more than 500 days to meet the flour needs of the population and even longer for other key items,” the WFP’s Beasley said.

According to Mark Kaye, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, the lack of humanitarian access represents “a flagrant violation of international law” by Israeli authorities.

“There can be no justification for denying critically needed aid from reaching civilians trapped by war,” Kaye said in an interview on Thursday. “The international community must demand Israel lift these cruel restrictions immediately before the crisis in Gaza spins out of control.”

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the blockade of Gaza remains a military necessity and vowed to continue using “all means necessary” to subdue Hamas militants in control of the territory. He has accused the militant group of exacerbating the humanitarian crisis by diverting international aid and resources towards fighters and bases located in densely populated civilian areas.

International Pressure Mounts On Israel

With the civilian death toll mounting, international pressure is growing on the Israeli government to agree to an immediate ceasefire deal and guarantee full humanitarian access to Gaza.

In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded all parties “end this madness” and allow aid groups immediate access to assist civilians in dire need of assistance.

“The misery inflicted on Palestinian civilians must end now. Access for aid workers is urgently needed to deliver food, health and sanitation supplies. Attacks on civilians are never justified,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.

Guterres comments follow a special session of the UN Security Council on Friday in which US Ambassador Richard Mills urged Israel to guarantee “safe and unhindered access” for all humanitarian personnel operating in Gaza. President Biden has also reportedly lobbied Netanyahu directly in recent days to wind down military operations in Gaza, according to a report in the Washington Post.

However Israeli officials have remained defiant, insisting they will continue using military force in Gaza until Hamas militants agree to lay down their weapons. In an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the only long-term solution is regime change in Gaza.

“The chaos in Gaza can only be solved by replacing the Hamas regime that has made the conscious decision to subject its people to endless suffering at the expense of its terrorist enterprise,” Gantz said. “Israel’s military operation will continue for as long as it takes. The fate of Gaza lies in the hands of its own people.”

For now, civilians across Gaza remain trapped between Israeli bombardment from above and the iron grip of Hamas below as fears grow of an imminent health catastrophe if immediate action is not taken. With world leaders scrambling to deescalate tensions, the next few days could prove decisive in determining whether the growing humanitarian emergency can be contained or if the Gaza Strip descends into full blown famine.

Subheadings used:

UN Pleads For Access As Crisis Reaches “Breaking Point”

Gaza Faces Imminent Famine

Aid Groups Denied Access To Gaza

International Pressure Mounts On Israel

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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