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The conflict in Gaza persists despite dire conditions, prompting a Security Council meeting on Friday.
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The conflict in Gaza persists despite dire conditions, prompting a Security Council meeting on Friday.

A coalition of 27 aid groups, including UN agencies and their collaborators, released a joint statement urging for an immediate cessation of hostilities. They emphasized that the conditions in Gaza are some of the most severe they have ever seen.

Emergency meeting in New York

In New York, Ecuador, currently holding the presidency of the Security Council, has announced an emergency meeting to address the ongoing Palestine-Israel crisis. The meeting will take place at 10 AM on Friday, local time in New York.

On Wednesday, United Nations leader António Guterres urged the 15-member Council to use the infrequently used yet effective Chapter 99 method to prevent a humanitarian disaster and come together to demand a complete ceasefire for humanitarian purposes.

In a written correspondence to the Council, he emphasized the possible long-lasting consequences for the Palestinian population and for the stability and safety of the surrounding area.

Representatives from the Arab Group and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, who are permanent members, spoke to the press outside the Security Council in New York on Friday morning. They urged for immediate steps to be taken towards a ceasefire in Gaza.

‘No food. Just bombs’

According to reports, on Thursday, Israeli soldiers entered the town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where a large number of displaced individuals have sought refuge.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there has been ongoing and heavy bombing by Israel in the Gaza Strip, along with rocket attacks from Palestinian armed groups into Israel, for the last two days. On Wednesday, it was reported that over 100 individuals were killed in the bombing of several residential buildings in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

According to representatives from the UN World Food Programme and UN Children’s Fund, the majority of people in Gaza are facing severe food shortages. In certain regions, 90% of the population have gone an entire day without any meals. On social media, WFP representative Samer AbdelJaber shared this information, while UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who recently visited Gaza, described the situation as having no access to water, sanitation, or food, with constant bombing adding to the dire circumstances.

Griffiths says the humanitarian operation is in a disastrous state.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s emergency relief chief, stated in a press conference in Geneva that there is currently no humanitarian mission in southern Gaza that can be referred to as such. He also mentioned that the plan to safeguard civilians in the area has fallen apart and due to the intense attacks by the Israeli military, nowhere is considered safe anymore.

He described the current situation as “humanitarian opportunism”, in which aid deliveries have become “unpredictable, unreliable, and ultimately unsustainable”.

Mr. Griffiths emphasized that the humanitarian organizations that the citizens of Gaza have depended on for “numerous years” will continue to stand with them, but that the only effective solution to the crisis is to stop the use of weapons.

He pointed out positive developments in the ongoing discussions within the COGAT committee. This committee meets regularly and involves important parties such as the UN, Israel, Egypt, and the United States to address aid entry into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing from Israel.

“He mentioned that if we achieve that, it would be the first miraculous event we have witnessed in several weeks and a significant improvement for the logistical aspect of the humanitarian effort.” Currently, the only border crossing in operation for aid transportation is Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, since it reopened on October 21st.

“We require tranquility for good health.”

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, showed his backing for Mr. Guterres’ letter and emphasized that Gaza’s healthcare system is in a dire state.

He stressed the importance of peace for our well-being.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 212 incidents of violence towards healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip, impacting 56 facilities and 59 ambulances. Out of the 36 hospitals in Gaza, only 14 are currently able to operate to some extent.

On Wednesday, due to intense fighting and a shortage of essential resources, the Gaza health authorities evacuated most patients and staff from the Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabalia, which was the most recent facility to cease operations.

“According to the World Health Organization’s Tedros, this will result in the loss of critical life-saving treatment for thousands of individuals.”

On Thursday, an expert chosen by the United Nations expressed disapproval towards Israel’s continuous targeting of Gaza’s healthcare system. “We are currently at a low point that we must urgently overcome,” stated Tlaleng Mofokeng, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the right to health.

Special Rapporteurs are designated by the UN Human Rights Council and are not employed by the UN; they do not receive compensation for their duties.

UN staff continue to support communities in Gaza. (file)

The United Nations employees are still aiding the Gaza communities.

Aid distributions impeded

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the ongoing conflict has caused issues such as trucks being unable to move, communication disruptions, and staff being unable to reach the Rafah border crossing. As a result, the UN is facing difficulties in receiving much-needed aid.

On Wednesday, for the fourth day in a row, only the Rafah governorate in Gaza received aid distributions. According to OCHA, the intensity of the fighting has largely halted operations in the nearby Khan Younis governorate. Since the end of the fighting pause on December 1, there has been no access from the south to areas north of Wadi Gaza.

According to OCHA, on Wednesday, fewer aid trucks and less fuel than the usual daily average entered Gaza through Rafah. Specifically, 80 aid trucks and 69,000 litres of fuel were delivered, compared to the typical daily amounts of 170 trucks and 110,000 litres of fuel during the humanitarian pause.

The removal of individuals from Khan Younis.

According to OCHA, the conflict in Khan Younis has caused tens of thousands of individuals to seek refuge in Rafah in recent days. On Wednesday, the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of five schools in the eastern Khan Younis governorate, which were being used as shelters by UNRWA for Palestinian refugees.

Furthermore, the Israeli military has marked off a portion of Khan Younis city, roughly 25%, for urgent evacuation.

In Rafah, there are more people seeking shelter than there are available spaces. As a result, new arrivals are making homes on the streets and in empty areas throughout the city. UNRWA is providing tents for those who have been displaced, while WFP is giving out hot meals. This is all happening during a severe food shortage, which the UN has described as a “disastrous hunger crisis” in the entire area.