The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine continues as the first evacuations from Gaza take place and public outcry increases over the bombing of refugee camps.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that they have been collaborating with Egypt’s Health Ministry to prepare for medical evacuations and will continue to provide assistance.
The World Health Organization reported that 81 individuals were granted permission to enter Egypt for medical care.
He made these remarks while there were reports that the Rafah passenger terminal connecting Egypt and Gaza had been opened on Wednesday morning, which was the first time since October 7th. This was done on an exceptional basis to permit the exit of wounded Palestinians, foreigners, and those with dual citizenship from the enclave.
The entrance at Rafah is the sole uncontrolled access point, as Israel has implemented a blockade of the area since 2007 when Hamas militants took over the Gaza Strip.
‘Far greater needs’
Tedros cautioned on social media platform X that the focus should not stray from the urgent needs of numerous patients in Gaza. He also restated the urgency for safeguarding hospitals and urged for a swift increase in the delivery of medical assistance to the area.
On Tuesday, the UN humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA) reported that the largest convoy since the resumption of aid delivery via Rafah on October 21st entered Gaza. The convoy consisted of 59 trucks filled with water, food, and medicine.
According to OCHA, the use of fuel, which is crucial for operating life-saving equipment, continues to be prohibited.
WHO has recently announced through X that the Gaza Strip is currently facing a critical situation, with a large number of civilians, including children, suffering from severe injuries. Additionally, there are over 1,000 individuals who require kidney dialysis in order to survive, along with more than 2,000 in need of cancer treatment. A staggering 45,000 people are living with cardiovascular diseases and over 60,000 people have diabetes.
“These patients must be able to have sustained access to health care inside Gaza. Hospitals and other health facilities must be protected from bombardment and military use.”
The organization reported that by 7 October 2023, approximately 100 patients per day required access to specialized medical services outside of the Gaza Strip due to the insufficient availability of such services within Gaza.
The World Health Organization is urging for immediate and increased access to humanitarian assistance, such as fuel, water, food, and medical supplies.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that the amount of assistance being delivered was not proportional to the large number of civilians trapped in the enclave as the fighting intensifies.
The shelters are currently housing four times the number of individuals they were designed for.
Over 1.4 million individuals in Gaza are currently displaced, with approximately 689,000 seeking shelter in 150 facilities managed by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that in the past few days, a large number of displaced individuals, who had been staying with families, have moved to communal shelters in search of food and essential services.
According to OCHA, the UNRWA shelters are currently housing almost four times the number of people they were designed to accommodate.
Lazzarini in Gaza
On Wednesday, UNRWA’s Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini was granted entry into Gaza. During his visit, he engaged with Palestinian communities and UNRWA staff who are working tirelessly to provide aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians.
He is the highest-ranking official to gain entry since the Israeli bombing started.
During a briefing with reporters in New York, the UN Spokesperson stated that a representative expressed gratitude towards UNRWA employees in Gaza and noted that the organization has unfortunately lost 70 team members thus far.
UNRWA stated on Twitter that an additional 22 employees were harmed in the airstrike operation, stating “this is the largest number of UN aid workers who have lost their lives in a conflict within such a brief period.”
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations, announced that approximately 500 individuals with foreign passports were permitted to leave the enclave. He also noted that this increased access in and out of the area has allowed the UN to rotate some of its staff members who have been tirelessly working since the start of the crisis.
Alleged violations of international law by Israel: OHCHR
On Wednesday afternoon, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated in a tweet that they have concerns over the large amount of civilian casualties and damages in Gaza, particularly in the Jabalia refugee camp, caused by Israeli airstrikes. They expressed their apprehensions that these attacks may be disproportionate and could potentially be considered war crimes.
Several news sources have stated that a refugee camp located on the outskirts of Gaza City was targeted by at least six airstrikes. The health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, has confirmed that 50 individuals, mostly women and children, were killed in the Israeli strikes and that 150 others were injured.
The strike was aimed at a Hamas militant commander, according to Israel.
Hamas-controlled media reported that a second air attack on Wednesday resulted in a combined total of 195 Palestinian fatalities over the course of two days.
Shocking and disturbing attacks on minors.
UNICEF released a statement in New York on Wednesday evening condemning the violence in Jabaliya camp. They described the situation as “horrific and disturbing” after two days of consecutive attacks.
We currently do not have any figures on the impact of the attack on children, but it is known that numerous homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people have been injured or killed. According to reports, many children were among those affected.
“Over the course of 25 days, there have been two attacks following continuous bombardment, resulting in the reported deaths of more than 3,500 children (not including today’s casualties) and injuries of over 6,800 children. This equates to an average of over 400 children being killed or injured every day for 25 days straight. We cannot allow this to become the accepted norm.”
According to UNICEF, refugee camps, settlements for internally displaced persons, and the individuals residing in them are all safeguarded by international humanitarian law.
Such large-scale attacks on heavily populated residential areas can cause widespread harm and are not tolerable.
The status of the hostages is currently unknown.
Earlier today, the director-general of WHO, Tedros, expressed on social media that the organization remains deeply worried about the well-being of the 240 individuals who were captured by Hamas from Israel on October 7th. This includes a special concern for the vulnerable groups such as children, women, elderly, and those with health issues who require urgent medical care. Tedros emphasized the urgency for their prompt release.
The impact on journalists has been devastating.
According to OCHA, the Israeli military’s ground operation in northern Gaza and the outskirts of Gaza city has been increasing in severity, in addition to ongoing bombing attacks.
On Tuesday, there were reports of Israeli airstrikes in the heavily populated Jabaliya neighborhood in northern Gaza City. This area is also home to the largest refugee camp in the enclave, where approximately 116,000 individuals reside.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres posted on social media platform X on Wednesday, addressing the problem of threats faced by journalists globally. He emphasized the devastating impact of the conflict in the Middle East on these journalists and urged for improved measures to protect them as they continue to keep the public informed.
The OHCHR, a UN organization focused on human rights, expressed worry on Tuesday regarding the deaths of Palestinian journalists during Israeli attacks. They reiterated that journalists are non-combatants and should not be deliberately attacked. Any military personnel responsible for targeting them should be held accountable.
The United Nations relief chief has declared that this is a worldwide emergency.
The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator stated on Wednesday that the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza has caused a “global crisis” that requires immediate international intervention to prevent it from spreading beyond the region.
“This is not sustainable. We require a significant change,” stated Martin Griffiths.
We require the hostages to be freed without delay and without any conditions. Our priority is to supply vital resources for survival – specifically water, food, medicine, and fuel – in a secure, prompt, and extensive manner. While over 200 trucks have entered Gaza after careful negotiations, they do not provide sufficient relief.
He stated that the only feasible solution to deliver relief supplies to Gaza at this time is through agreed upon pauses.
Israel, Hamas, and other militant groups must adhere to their responsibilities under international humanitarian law. This includes being diligent in their military actions to avoid harm to civilians and civilian buildings.
International players who hold sway should leverage their diplomatic power to enforce the laws of war and safeguard the lives of civilians, in order to de-escalate the conflict and prevent it from spreading.
More to come…