Monday, February 26, 2024

UN agency says “no place is safe” in Gaza as Israel calls for new areas to evacuate

Thomas White, a top official with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, has warned Israel's military call for the evacuation of new parts of central Gaza, will impact more than 150,000 people — many already displaced.

“People in Gaza are people. They are not pieces on a checkerboard – many have already been displaced several times,” White, a top official in the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, wrote on the social media platform X.

“The Israeli Army just orders people to move into areas where there are ongoing airstrikes. No place is safe, nowhere to go.”

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces has urged residents of central Gaza — including Al-Bureij camp and the areas south of Wadi Gaza, which are near Al Nusairat — to move further south, warning in a statement Friday that the IDF was working “forcefully” against Hamas.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has also statef Israel’s goals in northern Gaza are being “gradually” completed and that the focus of military operations will shift south in the future — a warning repeated by Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Friday.

Since renewing its offensive in Gaza after the collapse of a brief truce, Israel has been urging residents to evacuate. Given ongoing communications difficulties in the enclave, it is unclear how widely the messages have been received.

An analysis published Friday found that Israel has struck several locations in Gaza where it had ordered civilians to evacuate to since the beginning of the war in October.

White also said the UN Security Council’s resolution “falls well short of what we need here in Gaza”.

“We need a ceasefire that will stop the killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, but most importantly, to enable conditions on the ground here so we can effectively deliver aid to the people of Gaza,” he told Al Jazeera.

At least 20,000 people have been killed in the besieged Gaza Strip since Israel began bombarding the enclave more than 10 weeks ago, according to Palestinian officials. At least 8,000 children and 6,200 women are among those killed, Gaza’s Government Media Office reported on Wednesday.

The war has flattened large parts of northern Gaza and driven most of the population to the southern part of the besieged territory, where many are in crowded shelters and tent camps. Some 1.9 million Palestinians – about 90 percent of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes.

The United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees has also called for an “immediate and humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza” while also emphasising the need for an “unimpeded flow of aid” into the besieged enclave, regardless of ongoing political negotiations.

“It is extremely tragic that politics stand in the way of 2.2 million people’s survival in Gaza,” UNRWA spokesperson Tamara al-Rifai said at a press conference.

In a post on X, UNRWA also added it “cannot deliver meaningful aid” while the Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues.

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