The United Nations on Thursday called for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire” of the Israel-Hamas war to allow for aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza.
Gaza’s humanitarian crisis arose from the Israel-Hamas war that broke out earlier this month. On October 7, Hamas — a militant group located in Gaza — launched a massive attack on Israel. In retaliation, Israel sieged and launched airstrikes at the territory, which took a toll on the 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza.
The Israeli missiles badly damaged Gaza roads, and the people of Gaza were without shipments of food, water, medicine and other essentials for nearly two weeks. On Tuesday, at least 500 Palestinians were killed in a deadly blast at Gaza City’s al-Ahli hospital, which neither Israel nor Gaza have taken credit for. Israel has continued to launch airstrikes at Gaza as of Thursday.
During a press conference in Egypt, UN Secretary General António Guterres called for the cease-fire in order to ensure that aid can be safely delivered and distributed to Gaza.
“Disease is spreading. Supplies are dwindling. People are dying,” he said. “Civilians in Gaza desperately need core services and supplies ― and for that we need rapid, unimpeded humanitarian access.”
Israel said that it would not block the delivery of food, water and medicine into Gaza. Earlier this week, a US based humanitarian organisation delivered 47,000 hot meals to Palestinians in Gaza, according to NPR.
Dr. Richard Brennan, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Emergency Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, told CNN that the deal the US struck with Israel and Egypt to provide aid to Gaza is a “start,” but that there will be challenges to the aid operation, such as the damaged roads and infrastructure.
Guterres said that El Arish airport and the Rafah Crossing — located on the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip — are the “lifelines to the people of Gaza.” Egypt sent work crews to Gaza on Thursday to repair the roads to ensure aid can pass through the crossing, according to NBC News.
The WHO, in partnership with the Egypt and Palestine Red Crescent societies, have trucks “loaded and ready to go” to deliver aid and supplies to Gaza once the border crossing opens, which could happen on Friday.
The Israel-Hamas war has become the deadliest of the five Gaza wars, with more than 4,000 dead on both sides. More than a million were displaced as they fled their homes ahead of Israel’s invasion that was intended to eliminate Hamas. Since the start of the war, thousands have been injured, including civilians and journalists, and dozens are being held captive.
Guterres called on Israel to allow immediate unrestricted access of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, as well as Hamas to release the hostages.
“The Palestinian people have legitimate and deep grievances after 56 years of occupation. But, as serious as those grievances are, they cannot justify terror attacks,” he said. “And as appalling as those attacks have been, they cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Both of my humanitarian appeals are essential in and of themselves.”