Some Gazans Returning Back to North despite Dangers, Says UN

ISRAEL: Some Palestinians who had evacuated their homes in northern Gaza are now returning due to the difficult conditions in the southern part of the region, a senior UN official says.

Israel had ordered around 1.1 million residents of Gaza City and other northern areas to leave for their safety the previous week.

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But the UN official stated that those returning are facing challenges in finding shelter, food, and clean drinking water in the south.

Meanwhile, the Hamas-run health ministry reported hundreds of casualties from Israeli airstrikes in the southern region over the past day.

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The Israeli military stated that it had targeted numerous military sites belonging to Hamas throughout Gaza as part of an escalated air campaign ahead of a potential ground offensive.

The Hamas-run health ministry reports that since Israel started bombarding the Strip in retaliation for Hamas’ historic cross-border attack on October 7, which resulted in at least 1,400 deaths and 222 hostages, more than 5,000 people have died across the Strip.

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Israel has also halted food and medication imports, cut off most water and electricity, and allowed only a few dozen relief trucks to pass via Egypt’s Rafah gate since Saturday.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 1.4 million people in Gaza, which is nearly two-thirds of the population, have either evacuated their homes due to fear or because their residences have been destroyed or harmed in the past two weeks.

Israeli military leaflets over Gaza City on Saturday warned that anyone who did not relocate to the southern side of the Wadi Gaza river “may be identified as an accomplice in a terrorist organisation.”

And while the UN welcomed the 34 trucks that arrived over the weekend with food, water, and medical supplies, Thomas White, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) in Gaza, issued a warning, saying that hundreds more trucks a day—especially those with fuel—were needed to meet Gaza’s needs.

“Before the conflict, Gaza was receiving about 455 trucks a day, so we’ve got a long way to go to scale up the logistics operation,” he said.

“We have about three days left of fuel inside Gaza. This is something that Israel needs to allow to enter Gaza; otherwise, our aid operation will come to a halt. Desalinization plants will start running out of water. Hospitals will start having to shut down their wards,” he added.

The Gaza health ministry issued a warning that 13 public hospitals are running low on fuel for their generators, which are supporting critical life-saving services, including incubators for 130 babies.

Israel has refused to allow fuel into Gaza, citing concerns that it could be misused by Hamas for military purposes.

According to an Israeli defence ministry agency, Hamas possesses “a fuel reserve of 1 million litres” and they have accused Hamas of “refusing to hand [fuel] out to facilities in need” and using it for “lighting up their terror tunnels, for rocket launchers, and for their own homes”.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on Monday that during the course of the previous day, its forces had attacked 320 targets in Gaza, including “tunnels containing Hamas terrorists, dozens of operational command centres… military compounds, and observation posts.”

“Furthermore, the IDF struck targets that posed a threat to forces in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip who are preparing for ground operations, including dozens of mortar shell and anti-tank missile launch posts,” it further added.

Overnight, videos circulating on social media depicted the consecutive Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, lighting the sky with explosive bursts.

The Gaza health ministry stated on Monday afternoon that within the past 24 hours, 436 individuals, including 182 children, lost their lives, predominantly in the southern region.

The ministry also added that the overall death toll in Gaza since Israel’s response to Hamas’s cross-border attack began has now reached 5,087.

This figure includes 471 people, as per the health ministry, who were killed in an incident at al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City. While Hamas attributed the event to an Israeli airstrike, the IDF presented evidence indicating that the explosion resulted from a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

On Monday, the UK government also assessed that the explosion was “likely caused by a missile or part of one that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel,” aligning with the conclusions of the US, France, and Canada.

Additionally, the IDF has stated that approximately 7,000 rockets were launched towards Israel by Hamas and other groups in Gaza since October 7th, with 550 of them failing and landing inside Gaza.

Also Read: Israeli Forces Launch Airstrikes on Gaza amidst Clashes with Hamas

Originally posted 2023-10-24 07:32:00.