The primary UN organization operating in Gaza has issued a warning that aid operations will be halted if fuel does not reach the besieged area.
According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the ongoing humanitarian crisis could be exacerbated by the potential shutdown of hospitals, bakeries, and water pumps due to a lack of fuel. It is imperative to find a resolution to this issue in order to continue providing aid.
The agency reported that approximately 600,000 individuals who have been forced to leave their homes due to Israeli bombings are currently seeking shelter in 150 facilities. However, these facilities are four times beyond their intended capacity, forcing some individuals to sleep outdoors.
If there is no fuel, it is impossible to pump or purify water, resulting in people having to consume contaminated water. Fuel is also essential for hospital generators, and due to limited availability, six hospitals have had to close down. It is estimated that the 2.3 million inhabitants require a minimum of 160,000 liters of fuel per day.
The severe alerts were issued as airstrikes continue, resulting in a reported death toll of 6,500 in Gaza since October 7th, according to the health ministry controlled by Hamas.
The IDF has restricted the delivery of fuel and other materials, citing concerns that Hamas would misuse them. The group has also been accused of stockpiling the remaining fuel supplies in Gaza.
On Tuesday it published photos purportedly showing fuel tanks controlled by Hamas. “This is what over half a million litres of diesel looks like while Hamas keeps claiming it does not have enough fuel to support hospitals and bakeries,” tweeted an IDF spokesperson.
Healthcare professionals and international aid groups have reported alarming circumstances in Gaza, such as doctors being required to perform surgeries with inadequate or no pain relief, working by the light of their cell phones, and substituting vinegar for antiseptic in certain situations.
At the Nuseirat refugee camp located in central Gaza, residents formed a queue to purchase bread. A 58-year-old man named Mohammed Assar revealed that his household of 35 people relied on firewood for cooking.
He stated that for the past two weeks, their daily routine has consisted of searching for bread, stocking up on water every other day when the trucks arrive, and tuning into the radio in hopes of receiving updates about their surroundings. They have been unable to charge any devices due to the lack of electricity.
In recent days, a small amount of medical resources has been permitted to cross the Egypt-Gaza border. However, Israel is not permitting their distribution in the northern region, where the majority of hospitals are located. This is due to their desire for the evacuation of northern Gaza before proceeding with a ground attack.
Pope Francis called for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza and the entry of more humanitarian aid but a diplomatic row between Israel and the UN dimmed any prospect of a deal.
Israeli officials announced that they have declined to grant a visa to Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian affairs chief, as a form of protest against statements made by António Guterres, the secretary general. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s representative to the UN, stated on Israeli army radio that visas for UN representatives will be denied due to Guterres’ remarks and that it is time to take action and educate them.
On Tuesday, Guterres expressed strong disapproval of the violent attack conducted by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the death of over 1,400 Israelis. However, he also acknowledged that this attack did not occur without reason and pointed to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians over the last fifty years. He urgently called for a ceasefire, citing the immense suffering caused by this conflict.
He also stated that the complaints of the Palestinian population do not excuse the abhorrent attacks carried out by Hamas.
“I have strongly denounced the atrocious and unprecedented terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel on October 7th,” he stated. “There is no justification for purposefully causing harm, injury, and abduction of innocent civilians, nor for launching rockets aimed at civilian areas.”
The row came amid concern the conflict may spread. Since Gaza erupted, more than 90 people have been killed and 1,200 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank, prompting warnings it will “ignite”.
On Wednesday, Israel’s attacks resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers in southern Syria. Israel claimed it was retaliating to rocket attacks. Over the last two weeks, there have been instances of rockets and artillery being fired back and forth across Israel’s border with Lebanon.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, Hezbollah leaders held a meeting with senior leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to discuss strategies for achieving “victory”. The statement did not provide details on the location or date of the meeting.