Gaza only getting 'crumbs' of aid as Israel steps up raids with fighter jets
Israeli strikes on Gaza City continue. /Omar El-Qattaa/AFP
Israeli strikes on Gaza City continue. /Omar El-Qattaa/AFP

Israeli strikes on Gaza City continue. /Omar El-Qattaa/AFP

Gaza requires "uninterrupted" aid and basic services are "crumbling," according to the local UN agency, after nearly three weeks of Israeli bombardment in retaliation for Hamas attacks this month that has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Israel has been bombarding the area since Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping more than 220 others, according to Israeli officials.

Another eight trucks carrying food, medicine and water are expected to cross into the Gaza Strip on Friday, but for the population of 2.3 million, Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general for UN agency for Palestinian refugees, described the trickle of aid entering the area as "crumbs." 

"The current system in place is geared to fail. What is needed is meaningful and uninterrupted aid flow. To succeed, we need a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure this aid reaches those in need," Lazzarini said.

"As we speak, people in Gaza are dying. They are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage."

The commissioner also confirmed 57 of the agency's staff had been killed during the war.

In retaliatory Israeli air and artillery strikes to the actions of Hamas, at least 7,028 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 2,913 children, according to figures released by the Hamas-controlled health ministry. The fatalities in Gaza are the highest there since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

A World Health Organization official said the agency had received estimates that some 1,000 unidentified bodies are still buried under the rubble in Gaza which are not yet included in death tolls.


Hamas targeted by Israeli military

Israel said it had conducted targeted raids in the central area of the Gaza Strip on Friday and struck dozens of Hamas targets using warplanes as it continues its preparation for its widely-expected ground offensive.

There has been no let-up in Israel's strikes as tens of thousands of Israeli troops massed alongside the Gaza border. 

"During the last day, IDF ground forces, accompanied by IDF fighter jets and UAVs (unmanned military aircraft), conducted an additional targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip," the Israel army said following its second such operation in as many days.

As concern spiralled over the fate of the 2.4 million Palestinians trapped under the relentless bombardment, European Union leaders called for "continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs."


Only 74 trucks of food, water and medicine have been permitted to enter Gaza since the war began. Before the fighting began, around 500 trucks entered daily, according to the UN.

Israel has cut supplies of food, water and power to Gaza, and has insisted no fuel can be imported as it could be used by Hamas, which it has vowed to destroy in response to the October 7 attacks. That has forced 12 of the territory's 35 hospitals to close, forcing the UN agency to "significantly reduce its operations."

The UN's humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Lynne Hastings said "nowhere was safe" in Gaza. UN figures showed that 1.4 million people – more than half of Gaza's population – have been displaced by the war. Israel has repeatedly urged civilians in northern Gaza to move south for their safety, but strikes have also hit southern areas and evacuation routes, Hastings added.


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Is the war escalating?

Israel faces growing calls to ensure its response does not cause increasing civilian casualties. "Israel has to do everything in its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians," U.S. President Joe Biden said this week.

With fears growing over war escalating in surrounding areas, the U.S. said its military had struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes were a response to a "series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17."

The strikes in Syria follow a direct warning on Thursday from Biden to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against strikes on U.S. troops. "There was a direct message relayed. That's as far as I'm going to go," U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. 

Austin sought to distance the attack against facilities used by the IRGC in Syria from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. "These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria," he said. 

"They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict."

Gaza only getting 'crumbs' of aid as Israel steps up raids with fighter jets

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Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

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