Situation at a glance: UN calls for protection for civilians in Gaza City

Situation at a glance: UN calls for protection for civilians in Gaza City
Situation at a glance: UN calls for protection for civilians in Gaza City

In the north of the Gaza Strip, fighting is intensifying again. The city of Gaza is particularly affected. The UN is sounding the alarm.

In light of the Israeli army’s call for evacuation of the embattled city of Gaza, the United Nations is calling for the unconditional protection of the civilian population. “These civilians must be protected and their essential needs must be met, whether they flee or stay,” said the UN emergency relief office OCHA, based in Geneva. All parties involved in the Gaza conflict must respect international humanitarian law at all times, said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in New York. The extent of the fighting and destruction in recent days during the ongoing ceasefire negotiations is “truly shocking.”

The calls to flee are usually a sign of impending new Israeli military operations. Israeli media and residents reported that the army distributed leaflets in Gaza City on Wednesday, calling on people to leave the affected areas. According to residents, the majority of those affected are refusing to leave the areas.

Israeli troops had already fought in the city in the north of the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the war. Meanwhile, fighters from the Islamist Hamas are trying to regroup there and elsewhere. The city has been hit hardest by the massive devastation caused by the war.

Impact on humanitarian aid

OCHA warned that such “evacuation orders” have consistently had a negative impact on humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The office expressed fears that the order will only reinforce the “mass suffering of Palestinian families, many of whom have already been displaced many times.”

The intensified fighting in Gaza City has led to the “largest evacuation since October,” the World Food Programme (WFP) said on X. The kitchens supported by the UN organisation are often the only source of food for families. However, the unpredictable situation in the area limits the aid.

General situation

According to Dujarric, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories, Muhannad Hadi, briefed UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the situation in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Hadi had previously visited the war zone again. He had “seen first-hand the consequences of the breakdown of public order and security when he entered and left Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing,” Hadi was quoted as saying.

He said he saw groups of men waiting for trucks that wanted to drive to the coastal area via Kerem Shalom in the south. All of the trucks were badly damaged, “with smashed windshields, mirrors and hoods.” Sacks of enriched flour from the WFP and the Palestinian relief agency UNRWA were scattered along the side of the road. Hadi also saw that the city of Khan Yunis was largely destroyed.

Across the Gaza Strip, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes because of the fighting between the Israeli military and the Islamist Hamas. The Gaza war was triggered by the unprecedented massacre with more than 1,200 deaths that terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups carried out in Israel on October 7, 2023. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 38,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began. The figure, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, cannot currently be independently verified.

Fighting in Gaza City overshadows negotiations

The renewed outbreak of heavy fighting in the north of the Gaza Strip is also overshadowing the indirect negotiations on a ceasefire. These include the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The latest round of talks in the Qatari capital Doha is considered crucial in determining whether an agreement can be concluded between Hamas and Israel. After weeks of stagnation, there have recently been signs of progress in the difficult negotiations.

Hamas had previously demanded an end to the war as a prerequisite for a hostage deal. But the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not prepared to do this. The USA, Egypt and Qatar are mediating between the warring parties.

USA wants to supply heavy bombs to Israel again

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the United States will soon resume supplying Israel with 500-pound bombs that President Joe Biden’s administration suspended a few weeks ago. The bombs could be transported to Israel in the coming weeks, it said, citing US government officials. “Heavier 2,000-pound bombs that were intended to be part of the same shipment continue to be held back.”

The US had stopped the delivery of heavy bombs in order to force Israel’s military to spare the civilian population during the offensive in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. At the end of June, the Israeli Defense Minister announced after talks in Washington that the obstacles to the supply of ammunition had been removed.

Source: Stern

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