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International aid charities warn of ‘apocalyptic’ situation in Gaza

This picture taken on October 11, 2023 shows an aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. (By AFP)

International aid charities have raised the alarm about an “apocalyptic” situation in the Gaza Strip and warned of starvation and disease outbreaks amid Israel’s long-running brutal aggression on the besieged territory.

In a video conference with journalists this week, international organizations depicted a bleak picture of what UK-based Save the Children called the “horrors” unfolding in Gaza after more than two months of a fierce Israeli bombardment campaign against the coastal silver.

“Those who survived the bombardment now face imminent risk of dying of starvation and disease,” said Alexandra Saieh of Save the Children.

“Our teams are telling us of maggots being picked from wounds and children undergoing amputations without anesthetic,” lining up by the “hundreds” for a “single toilet” or roaming the streets in search of food, she added.

Bushra Khalidi of Oxfam, another UK-headquartered charity, described the situation in Gaza as “apocalyptic” and said there was no such a thing as a safe zone in the territory.

“The situation in Gaza is not just a catastrophe, it’s apocalyptic... with potential irreversible consequences on Palestinian people,” Khalidi said. “Israel safe zones within Gaza are mirage.”

Sandrine Simon of the Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) charity recounted how a colleague was wounded in the southern city of Khan Yunis “when a tank attacked a school where he had taken refuge.”

“It took him hours to reach a hospital,” where “exhausted” nurses were desperately trying to care for hundreds of patients lying on the floor. “Gaza’s hospitals are becoming morgues. That’s unacceptable.”

Doctors Without Borders president Isabelle Defourny told a similar story about Gaza’s hospitals and stressed that fuel and medical supplies were “critically low.”

“We are working in al-Aqsa hospital, receiving an average of 150 to 200 war-wounded patients daily... since the first of December.”

On one day this week, “they received more dead than wounded patients. The hospital is overflowing, the morgue is overflowing, fuel and medical supplies have reached critically low level,” said Defourny.

“Israel has shown a total disregard for the protection of Gaza’s medical facilities,” she added.

Moreover, the World Food Program (WFP) said the risk of “famine” is high in Gaza, while the World Health Organization warned civilization was collapsing in the Palestinian territory.

“Given the living conditions and lack of health care, more people could die from disease than bombings” in Gaza, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He warned of a number of illnesses and diseases, including acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, skin rashes and chicken pox, which have emerged due to overcrowding and the lack of food, water, basic hygiene and access to medication.

Israel waged the war on Gaza on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise attack against the occupying entity in response to its decades-long crimes against Palestinians.

Israeli strikes have so far killed more than 17,400 people, most of them women and children, and injured over 46,480 others in its relentless air and ground attacks on Gaza since.

According to the UN, around 80 percent of the inhabitants of Gaza are displaced and more than 1.1 million are seeking refuge in UN Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA) shelters.

Palestinian succumbs to wounds in West Bank

Palestine’s official WAFA news agency said on Saturday that a Palestinian, identified as Sari Yousef Amr, died of his wounds after he had earlier been shot and arrested by Israeli soldiers during a raid on the town of Dura, south of the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron).

Amr’s father, Yousef, said the occupation forces raided his house at dawn and fired live bullets inside it, seriously wounding his 25-year-old son and arresting him and his brother.

WAFA cited the father as saying that the Israeli soldiers prevented anyone from approaching Amr and providing treatment to him while he was bleeding.

Yousef added that the occupation forces seized two vehicles, destroyed the contents of the house and other vehicles, and stole 400,000 shekels (around $100,000) in cash and checks.

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