UN Warns Civilians Face Famine And Disease In ‘Uninhabitable’ Gaza—-Beirut/Tel Aviv, Jan. 6, 2023 (dpa/NAN) After three months of relentless Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, the UN says the situation for civilians in the Palestinian territory is becoming increasingly dire.
“Three months since the horrific Oct. 7 attacks, Gaza has become a place of death and despair,” said Martin Griffiths, head of the UN emergency relief organisation OCHA.
Even areas where civilians had relocated at Israel’s request had been bombed. Medical facilities were also “relentlessly attacked.”
Israel’s army has repeatedly carried out operations in and around hospitals in the sealed-off coastal area.
It accuses the Islamist organisation Hamas of misusing them for terrorist purposes.
The few hospitals that are still partially functional are being overrun by desperate people seeking protection, said Griffiths.
“A public health disaster is unfolding,” he said.
“Infectious diseases are spreading in overcrowded shelters as sewers spill over.
“Some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth daily amidst this chaos.
“People are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded and famine is around the corner.
“For children in particular, the past 12 weeks have been traumatic,” said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“No food. No water. No school. Nothing but the terrifying sounds of war, day in and day out,” the coordinator added.
The Gaza Strip has simply become “uninhabitable,” Griffiths stressed.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday that malnutrition and disease were creating a deadly cycle threatening more than 1.1 million children.
A total of 90 per cent of the 1.1 million young people in the area is not fully supplied with nutrients, according to a UNICEF survey conducted on Dec. 26.
“Children in the Gaza Strip face a deadly triple threat to their lives, as cases of diseases rise, malnutrition plummets, and the escalation in hostilities approaches its fourteenth week,” UNICEF said.
Israel has been waging war against the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip for almost three months now.
The number of Palestinians killed has risen to 22,600, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority.
The United Nations regards the figures as credible.
A further 161 people have been killed and 296 injured within 24 hours in the ongoing heavy fighting by the Israeli army against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the health authority said further.
“Children in Gaza are caught in a nightmare that worsens with every passing day,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director.
The report said that cases of diarrhoea in children under 5 years of age rose from 48,000 to 71,000 in just one week starting Dec. 17, equivalent to 3,200 new cases of diarrhoea per day.
It added that displaced children and their families are unable to maintain the necessary hygiene levels needed to prevent disease, given the alarming lack of safe water and sanitation.
The report affirmed that prolonged diarrhoea put children at high risk of death.
“The futures of thousands more children in Gaza hang in the balance. The world cannot stand by and watch.
“The violence and the suffering of children must stop,” Russell said.
Eyewitnesses in the southern Gaza Strip reported further heavy fighting in the area around the city of Khan Younis on Friday.
Heavy detonations and shots from light weapons were constantly being heard, reported a dpa employee.
The Israeli troops were continuing to advance into the refugee camps of Nuseirat, Bureij and Maghazi.
Residents were fleeing in donkey carts towards Rafah and other parts of Khan Younis as well as Deir al-Balah, mainly to places that the Israeli army had designated as safe areas.
Food was scarce and many people had only precarious shelters made of plastic sheeting.
The Israeli army announced that it had destroyed several rocket launchers near Bureij and in Khan Younis, which were intended to fire at Israel.
Fighter jets also continued their attack sorties, in which an undisclosed number of civilians and Hamas fighters were killed.
More than 100 targets have been attacked in the Gaza Strip since Thursday.
The massive Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip was ostensibly a retaliation against a coordinated series of terrorist attacks by Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups on Oct. 7 last year.
They killed more than 1,200 people, including around 800 civilians.
Meanwhile according to a media report, Israel wants to build up international pressure against South Africa’s genocide lawsuit in the Gaza war before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The aim is to avert an interim injunction from the court to stop the fighting immediately, reported the news portal Axios on Friday night, citing a copy of a telegram from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to its embassies abroad.
In it, the embassies were instructed to persuade local diplomats and politicians to make a statement against South Africa’s lawsuit.
Hearings on the lawsuit are planned for next week.
South Africa had sued Israel before the highest UN court and accused it of genocide.
The court has scheduled the hearings for January 11 and 12.
The judgements of the UN court are generally binding.
However, the judges do not have the power to force a state to implement them.
South Africa is invoking the Genocide Convention in its lawsuit. Both states have signed this convention.
In South Africa’s view, the UN judges should first order an end to the violence against Palestinians in summary proceedings in order to protect their rights.
Israel firmly rejected South Africa’s accusations, saying that Hamas was solely responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Israel insisted yet again that it was doing everything in the war to minimize the damage to the civilian population.
A decision by the UN court could have significant potential repercussions that are not only of a legal nature, but also have practical bilateral, multilateral, economic, and security policy consequences.
This is according to Israel’s diplomatic cable to its foreign missions, Axios reported.