The UN is ready to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip "more effectively" if a cease-fire is reached between Israel and Palestine, a UN official said on Tuesday.
"It's a little bit premature to talk about, but certainly what we are doing is trying to make sure that we are ready.
"So if there is any pause in fighting, which is what we've been asking for, we would be able to deliver humanitarian aid more effectively," Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said at the daily news briefing.
His remarks came after both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' political leader, indicated progress on reaching an agreement for the release of Israelis held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Haq said the UN is putting in place arrangements including through discussions with the needed authorities.
"Obviously it depends somewhat on actions by the parties in the ground, but this is what we've been calling for.
"And the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) has been calling for this for many weeks, and he's doing that so that once it happens, we can provide the aid that's needed," he added.
Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques, and churches, have also been damaged or destroyed in the Israeli offensive.
An Israeli blockade has also cut Gaza off from fuel, electricity, and water supplies, and reduced aid deliveries to a small trickle.
Turning to the Israeli shelling of the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, claiming 12 lives, Haq said this is the fifth time the hospital has been hit since the start of hostilities.
"Hospitals and medical personnel are specifically protected under international humanitarian law, and all parties to the conflict must ensure that their protection. Hospitals must not be used to shield military objectives from attack," he added.
On Monday, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said that 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others were injured as a result of an Israeli airstrike on the Indonesian Hospital.
The ministry accused the Israeli army of seeking to turn the hospital into "a mass grave."
About the killing of the two journalists working for the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television after an Israeli shelling on the Tayr Harfa area in southern Lebanon, Haq said the UN is "very concerned" about the potential of further escalation.
"We're investing our efforts into making sure that there is no further escalation along the blue line. To that extent, we are worried about some of the recent exchanges of fire that have happened across the blue line," he said.
He said the UN always believes that journalists should be kept out of harm's way and deplores any killings of journalists.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, in a statement, vowed to avenge the killing of the journalists.
The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.
Earlier, a Reuters cameraman was killed in Israeli shelling on southern Lebanon.
The Israeli army and Hezbollah have been engaged in deadly skirmishes along the border since the Palestinian group Hamas carried out a surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7