Fuel deliveries for humanitarian operations in the enclave, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, have been largely banned since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that left at least 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage . This has seriously hampered aid efforts and services to provide water and electricity, UN agencies said.
North of Gaza, WHO led a mission to the besieged Al-Shifa Hospital, where thousands of civilians were seeking shelter alongside medical teams rushing to treat patients.
The mission was brought into conflict with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to ensure safe passage along the agreed route. However, it was a “high-risk operation” in an active conflict zone, with heavy fighting underway near the hospital, depending on who was involved.
“The team saw a hospital that could no longer function: no water, no food, no electricity, no fuel, medical supplies exhausted“said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a message on social networks. “Given this deplorable situation and the condition of many patients, including babies, health workers have requested support to evacuate patients who can no longer receive vital care there.”
There is 25 health workers and 291 patients remain in Al-Shifa, with several patients having died in the previous two to three days due to the closure of medical services, the UN agency said. The patients include 32 babies in extremely critical condition, two people in intensive care without ventilation and 22 dialysis patients whose access to life-saving treatment has been severely compromised. The vast majority of patients are victims of war trauma, the WHO said.
WHO and partners are rapidly developing plans for the immediate evacuation of remaining patients, staff and their families. Over the next 24 to 72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict, additional missions will be organized to urgently transport patients to hospitals in southern Gaza, according to WHO.
“We continue to call for the protection of health and civilians,” the WHO chief said. “The current situation is unbearable and unjustifiable.”
After weeks of delays, Israeli authorities have just approved only half of the minimum daily fuel requirements for humanitarian operations in Gaza, said Philippe Lazzarini, who heads the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), declared in a statement.
“Humanitarian organizations should not be forced to make difficult decisions between competing life-saving activities,” he said.
More … than 11,000 Gazans were killed and thousands more injured since the start of the conflict, according to the latest situation report by the United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA). The lack of fuel has led to communications outages, water station closures, hospital closures and a reduction in aid deliveries to Gaza.
Authorized deliveries do not meet needs
The situation has worsened since Israel closed all borders to aid deliveries to Gaza on October 7 and, through an agreement with Egypt, allowed limited shipments two weeks later, via the Rafah terminal.
Wednesday, Israel allowed around 23,000 liters, or half a tanker truck, of fuel to be delivered to UNRWA for humanitarian purposes.
Israel authorized the delivery of 120,000 liters on Saturday, which will cover only half of the daily critical needs. UNRWA was informed that the same quantity would be delivered every two days.
Currently approved fuel deliveries to Gaza are not enoughsaid the head of UNRWA.
“Major health hazard”
“This is far from enough to cover the needs of desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, humanitarian trucks, ambulances, bakeries and communications networks for operate without interruption,” Mr. Lazzarini said. “Fuel should not be limited for these activities. »
Without a full supply of fuel, he said, people will have only two-thirds of their daily drinking water needs.
Without an adequate supply of fuel, large parts of Gaza will continue to be flooded with sewage, further increasing the risk of disease, and 70 percent of solid waste will not be disposed of, posing “a major health risk.” “, said Mr. Lazzarini.
OCHA reported that “without fuel, the public sewage pumping stations, 60 water wells in the south, a desalination plant in the middle area, the two main sewage pumps in the south and the sewage treatment plant Rafah wastewater facilities have all ceased operations in recent years. days.”
75 percent of hospitals in Gaza are not functioning
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday, nearly 75 percent of Gaza’s hospitals – 25 out of 36 – were non-functional due to lack of fuel, damage, attacks and insecurity.. Eleven hospitals in the Gaza Strip are currently partially operational and admitting patients with extremely limited services.
Fuel shortages are making it impossible to deliver life-saving aid at a time when needs are soaring, UN agencies have said.
Aid “cannot be conditional”
“We are forced to manage a reduced number of aid trucks passing through Rafah daily,” he said. “These last few days have been marked by a drastic reduction of these services including water availability and wastewater disposal, with serious consequences for those in need.
Calling for “adequate, regular and unconditional delivery of fuel to maintain all our vital activities in the Gaza Strip,” he said: “humanitarian aid cannot be conditional and must not be used for political or military purposes or for financial gain.”
Attacks on schools
On Saturday morning, media reported further attacks on schools.
Adèle Khodr, of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement social post that the scenes of carnage and death following the attacks on the Al-Fakhoura and Tal Al Zaatar schools in Gaza which killed numerous children and women. horrible and terrible.
“These horrific attacks should stop immediately,” she wrote. “Children, schools and shelters are not a target. An immediate ceasefire is needed now!
Echoing the call, Mr Lazzarini reacted to reports of attacks on UNRWA schools which housed thousands of displaced people.
“These attacks cannot become commonplace, they must stop,” he said on social media. post on. “A humanitarian ceasefire cannot wait any longer. »
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly held a meeting on the situation in Gaza, with many delegates and heads of UN agencies calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. Last week, the security Council found unity after a month dead endcalling for urgent and prolonged humanitarian pauses.