Access sought for aid to Gaza

2023-10-17 08:19:39China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Health supplies await entry as humanitarian crisis looms

International and humanitarian organizations are pleading for "immediate unconditional access" for critical aid in Gaza to deter a rapidly escalating crisis with the number of displaced people now estimated to have breached 1 million — 10 days into the violent Palestine-Israel conflict.

The appeal from the United Nations came as clean water, food and other vital supplies are reportedly running out, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying they should not be "bargaining chips".

The World Health Organization said lifesaving assistance, including health supplies to serve 300,000 patients, was awaiting entry through the Rafah crossing into Gaza, The Associated Press reported.

Guterres also urged the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, to release its captives amid looming Israeli ground incursion that seeks to eliminate the militant group.

The move also forced half of Gaza's 2.3 million population to evacuate their homes. The number appears to be rising — The Associated Press reported that Israeli military has ordered people living in 28 communities near the Lebanese border to evacuate on Monday.

Talks of opening the Rafah border, which Egypt shares with Gaza, have been rife in Western and Middle East media circles. On Monday, Al Jazeera reported that both Israel and Hamas deny any cease-fire in southern Gaza after security sources in Egypt said a deal was due.

Egypt State Information Service, the country's "main informational, awareness and public relations agency", published an article on Sunday saying the Rafah border crossing was open, "but became inoperable after Israel bombed it", citing its Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry's interview with CNN.

Further, Egypt said the Rafah crossing should only be used to send humanitarian aid to Palestinians, citing officials.

Death toll from both sides has breached 4,000, with over 14,000 injured and more than 1,000 missing.

Appeals for de-escalation

Amid the mass evacuations taking place at short notice in Gaza, appeals to de-escalate the situation continue to increase.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said his agency was "on the verge of collapse" and was no longer able to provide humanitarian assistance. The agency is seeking $104 million in funds for lifesaving aid to Gaza.

China is providing emergency humanitarian aid to the UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority, the China Central Television said on Monday. The aid is to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Gaza and to address the urgent needs, such as food and medical care, CCTV quoted the China International Development Cooperation Agency as saying.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates announced its support to the UNRWA humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip with a new contribution of $20 million.

Israel's planned ground operation in Gaza, with mass troops and tanks at the border, to "exterminate Hamas" has raised doubts in the international community.

The Arab League and the African Union said in a joint statement on Sunday that it could "lead to a genocide of unprecedented proportions", the Arab News and various media reported.

Iran has warned Israel of a regional escalation if the Israeli military enters Gaza for a ground operation as the war with Hamas drags on, Al Jazeera reported.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who was quick to publicly declare support for Israel after Hamas' attack on Oct 7, warned in an interview with CBS News on Sunday that any move by Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip again "would be a big mistake", but added that going in to take Hamas militants out "was a necessary requirement".

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