’Many more to die’ from Gaza siege, UN warns

’Many more to die’ from Gaza siege, UN warns

GENEVA (Agencies): The UN warned Friday that “many more will die” in Gaza from catastrophic shortages after nearly three weeks of bombardment by Israel in response to Hamas staging the deadliest attack in its history.

As the conflict raged into its 21st day, the Israeli army said its soldiers backed by fighter jets and drones mounted a land incursion into the Gaza Strip, as it prepares for a ground offensive.

Concern is growing about regional fallout from the conflict, with the United States warning Iran against escalation while striking facilities in Syria it says were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and others.

Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza since Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, kidnapping more than 220 others, according to Israeli officials.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says the strikes have killed more than 7,000 people, mainly civilians and many of them children, leading to growing calls for protection of innocents caught up in the conflict.

“People in Gaza are dying, they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of (the) siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), told reporters in Jerusalem.

Israel has cut supplies of food, water and power to Gaza, notably blocking all deliveries of fuel saying it would be exploited by Hamas to manufacture weapons and explosives.

“Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage,” he said of the devastated territory where around 45 percent of all housing has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN which cited local authorities.


A medical team and 10 aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Friday via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, carrying water, food and medicine, a Palestinian border official told Reuters.

“This Friday morning, a medical delegation consisting of 10 foreign doctors entered, in addition to 10 trucks entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah land crossing, carrying water, food and medicine, bringing the total number of trucks since the beginning of the war to only 84 trucks,” the official said.

Detailed negotiations were taking place with Israel in a bid to secure more humanitarian crossings into the Israeli-besieged Palestinian enclave, Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told reporters in Geneva.

Gaza has been hit by unrelenting Israeli air strikes that have killed thousands in response to a cross-border attack by Hamas gunmen into southern Israel on Oct. 7.

“In addition to the technical issues and the security issues, there are political issues as well,” Hastings said. “And there’s a certain amount of pressure on the government of Israel in terms of its domestic politics.”

There is still no agreement to get fuel into Gaza, and the UN Palestinian refugee agency has said the absence of fuel was jeopardizing life-saving humanitarian operations there.

Officials are also grappling with the issue of deciding how to distribute the scant aid.

“We are aware of the 1,000 patients that require dialysis and over 100 children and babies that are in incubators, so we do our best to try and make the prioritization in accordance with the greatest needs,” Hastings said.


Inside Gaza, the punishing strikes have left people “with nothing but impossible choices,” said Hastings.

Israel has repeatedly urged civilians in northern Gaza to move south for their safety, but strikes have also hit southern areas and evacuation routes, with UN figures showing some 1.4 million people — more than half of Gaza’s population — have been displaced.

Heading the Israeli warnings, Rahma Saqallah fled her Gaza City home to go south with her family. But after strikes killed her husband and three of her children, she turned round to go back.

“Wherever we go, we will die,” she told AFP before leaving the southern town of Khan Yunis with her surviving child.

“They told us to leave for the south and then they killed us (here).”