Sunday, May 19, 2024

Half a million Palestinians in Gaza forced to flee: UN

The United Nations has reported about half a million Palestinians have been displaced in recent days by escalating Israeli military operations in both southern and northern Gaza.

At least 450,000 Palestinians have been driven out of Rafah in Gaza’s south over the past week, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said.

UNRWA added that families continue to flee Rafah in search of safety, fleeing wherever they can – including to rubble and sand dunes.

The report warned families displaced from Rafah are arriving at sites that lack shelter, latrines and water points.

The UN report said all parties must respect international humanitarian law and civilians’ essential needs “including food, shelter, water and health – must be met, wherever they are in Gaza and whether they move or stay”.

It is impossible to improve the situation at displacement sites if supplies can’t enter Gaza, it added.

In northern Gaza, Israeli evacuation orders have displaced at least 100,000 people so far, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters.

Aid workers are also struggling to distribute dwindling supplies to Palestinians facing catastrophic levels of hunger in makeshift tent camps.

The Israeli army launched a ground attack last week in Rafah, where more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sheltered. It also captured the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, a vital route for humanitarian aid and the territory’s only gateway to the outside world that bypasses Israel.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip following Palestinian resistance group Hamas’ cross-border attack on Oct. 7, 2023, which killed about 1,200 people.

Nearly 35,200 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have since been killed, and over 79,000 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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