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Numerous Gazans in dire need have forcibly entered warehouses to acquire essential items like flour, indicating a concerning breakdown of civil order in the strip according to the UN.
On Sunday, a video from Khan Younis in the southern region of Gaza depicted individuals transporting containers and sizable sacks from a storage facility. These contained essential items such as flour and hygiene products.
The UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, reported that individuals in Gaza are feeling “fearful, disappointed, and hopeless” following three weeks of continuous bombardment and blockade by Israel.
UNRWA’s Gaza director Thomas White expressed that the reduction in phone and internet access has heightened tensions and fear among residents. They now feel isolated and disconnected from their loved ones within Gaza and the global community.
The United Nations has declared that there is a pressing need for additional assistance, as there is a high prevalence of hunger, water-related illnesses, and dehydration. Mr. White also stated that the requirements of the affected communities are extensive, even for just basic survival, yet the aid provided is inadequate and unreliable.
Juliette Toma, a spokesperson for UNRWA, which has lost 59 staffers in the bombardment, told The Independent the raided centres were located in the centre and south of Gaza, in areas where civilians have been ordered to evacuate to by Israel.
The large movement of individuals from the northern region of Gaza to the southern region has created significant strain on these communities, contributing to the already strained public services. Certain families have had to accommodate up to 50 family members in one home for shelter.
Ms Toma alerted that the food supply in the markets of Gaza, which has a population of 2 million people, half of whom are children, was depleting quickly.
She stated that the individuals have endured a strict blockade and a violent conflict for over three weeks. They are feeling frustrated, exhausted, famished, and traumatized, having lost a significant amount.
The lack of communication caused panic and heightened feelings of being alone.
Israel has unleashed its heaviest-ever bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for a bloody 7 October attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants, who killed hundreds of people and took dozens hostage, including babies and the elderly.
On Sunday, the Israeli army indicated their plan to surround Gaza’s primary city by releasing images of combat tanks on the Palestinian territory’s western shoreline. This came 48 hours after announcing extended ground invasions along its eastern border.
The armed branch of Hamas reported that their fighters engaged in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers who had entered the northwest area of Gaza carrying small weapons and anti-tank missiles. Palestinian militants have persistently launched rockets into Israel, even targeting its main city, Tel Aviv.
Israel has imposed a severe blockade on Gaza, depriving its residents of essential resources such as water, food, electricity, medical supplies, and fuel for generators. This blockade was enacted in response to the ongoing bombardment, with Israel citing fears that the fuel could be utilized by Hamas to launch rockets.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas, has announced that over 8,000 people have been fatally injured in the span of three weeks. This number is almost four times higher than the overall death count of Palestinians during the seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2014.
According to Save the Children, over 3,100 children have lost their lives in the enclave during this period, exceeding the yearly number of child casualties in conflict zones worldwide since 2019.
The United Nations has once again urged for a humanitarian pause in hostilities to facilitate the distribution of aid and removal of those in most need. Last Friday, the UN’s General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution with an overwhelming majority, calling for an immediate, lasting, and consistent humanitarian ceasefire. However, Israel’s foreign minister dismissed this act as “shameful”.
Currently, there has been no announcement of a break and only a small amount of assistance has been permitted. According to Ms Toma, since October 7th, only 80 trucks carrying aid have been allowed into Gaza, a significant decrease from the 500 trucks per day before the start of the conflict.
She emphasized the importance of a continuous supply of resources to the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli defense agency, Cogat, which typically communicates with Palestinians, acknowledged that there is a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza. However, they denied claims that people are facing a shortage of food.
According to Colonel Elad Goren, a spokesperson for Cogat, there is enough food in Gaza for the next few weeks. However, he did not give any specifics. During a briefing on Sunday, he stated that Hamas fighters have also collected resources such as fuel, which they are not distributing to the general population.
He stated that in the upcoming week, Israel intends to significantly increase the aid provided to Gaza. He also urged Palestinian civilians to leave the northern portion of the strip and move to a designated “humanitarian zone” in the southern part of the territory.
On Sunday, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that they were given a warning by Israeli authorities to urgently evacuate al-Quds hospital located in the Gaza Strip. The hospital has also experienced airstrikes within a 50m radius. The World Health Organisation has stated that evacuating the hospital is not feasible and that any orders to do so may be considered forced relocation.
On Friday, Gaza experienced a blackout as the Israeli military declared its intention to increase ground operations in the area. This resulted in the suspension of mobile, internet, and landline services. Troops and tanks were also deployed into the strip.
In the span of 24 hours, the surrounded region endured intense attacks from the air, sea, and land. Near the border with Israel, the sound of continuous outgoing Israeli artillery could be heard. Israel claimed that their fighter jets had targeted 450 locations within just one day.
After certain mobile networks were reestablished on Sunday, doctors in Gaza informed The Independent that it was the most intense night of attacks they had experienced.
British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu Sitta, who is currently employed by Doctors Without Borders at the largest hospital in Gaza, expressed his initial belief that the blackout would be the end.
“The structures were trembling as we stepped outside, with artillery shells flying over Shifa Hospital,” he described, emphasizing the severity of the situation as “catastrophic”.
The Conservative minister states that it is challenging to aim at Hamas without causing harm to innocent individuals.
Mr. Sitta explained that in the absence of mobile networks, families were not able to contact first responders. This resulted in ambulances having to go towards the shelling without any guidance, in order to rescue the injured.
He documented treating patients, including a 13-year-old, who had injuries he suspected were caused by white phosphorus. White phosphorus, which is similar to napalm, can be utilized for marking, signaling, and concealing, or as a means of starting fires.
The use of this weapon is not allowed in heavily populated areas according to international laws, as it causes extremely painful injuries. It has the capability to burn through flesh and reach the bone, and can result in failure of multiple organs.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two international organizations dedicated to protecting human rights, have both accused Israel of using white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon since October 7th. They have confirmed this through video evidence and speaking with witnesses who witnessed the attacks. However, Israel has rejected these claims and stated that they did not use these munitions.