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UN warns 'even more hellish scenario is about to unfold' in Gaza

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published December 05,2023

The besieged Gaza Strip's humanitarian crisis is set to accelerate amid renewed Israel attacks on the coastal enclave, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Palestine warned Monday.

A seven-day ceasefire that halted hostilities between Hamas and Israel ended Friday after the parties could not agree on an extension. It had allowed for the release of hostages, and for the delivery of relatively more significant volumes of humanitarian assistance into the coastal enclave.

But Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Lynn Hastings said the resumption of the war on Gaza, with Israel expanding its offensive on the south, is "forcing tens of thousands of others into increasingly compressed spaces, desperate to find food, water, shelter and safety."

"Nowhere is safe in Gaza and there is nowhere left to go. The conditions required to deliver aid to the people of Gaza do not exist," she said in a statement. "If possible, an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold, one in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond."

"What we see today are shelters with no capacity, a health system on its knees, a lack of clean drinking water, no proper sanitation and poor nutrition for people already mentally and physically exhausted: a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster," added Hastings.

Nearly 16,000 people have been killed, roughly 70% of them women and children, amid mass Israeli bombardment, according to the Health Ministry in the enclave. Roughly 1.8 million Palestinians have been displaced, representing about 80% of Gaza's population, according to the UN.

About half of Gaza's housing stock has been damaged or destroyed. Israel launched its offensive in retaliation for a cross-border attack by Hamas in which over 1,200 people were killed, according to official Israel figures.

Hastings said that space for humanitarian operations in Gaza has been "constantly shrinking" with aid workers no longer able to access "the two most important routes" needed to carry out operations.

"The UN and NGOs alone cannot support a population of 2.2 million. Commercial and public sectors must be allowed to bring supplies into Gaza to restock markets. This must include fuel in a manner which ensures Israel's security," she said.

"Announcements of establishing so-called safe zones and tented cities without assurances that people will be able to move freely and that assistance can be delivered where there is need are alarming. These zones cannot be safe nor humanitarian when unilaterally declared," she added.