Fuel deliveries have been limited, hindering aid efforts in Gaza, as there have been recent attacks on schools.
with only limited exceptions
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has reported that restrictions on fuel are hindering aid efforts, as there are reports of new attacks on schools and other civilian buildings and increased needs among the 1.5 million displaced individuals in Gaza. Due to the attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7th, where 1,200 people were killed and 240 were taken hostage, fuel deliveries for aid operations have been mostly prohibited, with only a few exceptions.
According to a statement from Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, Israeli officials have finally given approval for half of the required daily fuel for humanitarian operations after several weeks of postponements.
He stated that humanitarian organizations should not have to choose between difficult options when it comes to activities that save lives.
As per the most recent report from the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA), around 12,000 individuals from Gaza have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured since the start of the conflict. The shortage of fuel has resulted in communication disruptions, closure of water facilities, shutdown of hospitals, and decreased delivery of aid in Gaza.
The number of approved deliveries is insufficient to meet demands.
The situation has deteriorated as Israel has shut down all borders for aid deliveries to Gaza on October 7th. However, two weeks later, limited shipments were permitted through the Rafah crossing through a deal with Egypt.
Israel permitted the delivery of approximately 23,000 liters, equivalent to half of a tanker truck, of fuel to UNRWA on Wednesday for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid.
Israel approved the delivery of 120,000 liters on Saturday, but this will only meet half of the daily urgent requirements. UNRWA was notified that this same amount will be delivered every other day.
The head of UNRWA stated that the current authorized shipments of fuel to Gaza are insufficient.
‘Major health hazard’
Mr. Lazzarini stated that the current amount of resources is insufficient to support desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, aid trucks, ambulances, bakeries, and communications networks to function without any pauses. He also emphasized that fuel should not be limited for these essential tasks.
He stated that without enough fuel, individuals will only have 2/3 of their required daily supply of safe drinking water.
Mr. Lazzarini expressed concern that without sufficient fuel, significant portions of Gaza will remain inundated with sewage, heightening the potential for disease. He also noted that 70% of solid waste will go uncollected, creating a serious threat to public health.
According to OCHA, several facilities such as public sewage pumping stations, water wells, a desalination plant, and sewage pumps have stopped functioning due to a lack of fuel. This has occurred in the southern region, the middle area, and the Rafah wastewater treatment plant in recent days.
Seventy-five percent of Gaza’s hospitals are currently not operational.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, as of Friday, nearly 75% of hospitals in Gaza – 25 out of 36 – are unable to operate due to fuel shortages, damage, attacks, and safety concerns. Only eleven hospitals in the area are partially functional and able to accept patients with very limited resources.
UN agencies stated that due to fuel shortages, it is currently not feasible to provide crucial assistance during a time of increasing demand.
Assistance must not have any conditions attached.
“We are currently facing a decrease in the number of aid trucks entering Rafah on a daily basis,” he stated. “In recent days, there has been a significant decline in these services, particularly in terms of water supply and sewage disposal, which has had severe impacts on those in need.”
He urged for consistent and unrestricted supply of fuel to support our essential lifesaving efforts in Gaza. He emphasized that humanitarian assistance should not be subject to conditions and should not be exploited for political or military purposes.
Attacks on schools
According to media reports on Saturday morning, there were new attacks on schools.
According to Adele Khodr, the director for the Middle East and North Africa division of UNICEF, the images of destruction and loss of life after the recent attacks on schools in Gaza, Al-Fakhoura and Tal Al Zaatar, where numerous children and women lost their lives, are extremely disturbing and distressing.
She penned, “These terrible assaults must come to an end right away. Children, schools, and shelters are not intended victims. An immediate ceasefire is urgently required!”
Mr. Lazzarini expressed agreement with the call, responding to news of assaults on a school run by UNRWA where numerous individuals who had been displaced from northern Gaza were taking refuge.
In a post on X, he expressed that these assaults must not become ordinary and must come to an end. He also stated that a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons cannot be delayed any further.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly held a meeting on the situation in Gaza, with many delegates and heads of UN agencies calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. Last week, the Security Council found unity after a month-long deadlock, calling for urgent, extended humanitarian pauses.