In a dire situation that has lasted nearly two weeks, millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remain trapped without sufficient supplies, prompting concerns about their survival. The Rafah border crossing in Egypt sees hundreds of aid trucks eagerly waiting for authorization to provide lifesaving aid to the 2.3 million besieged residents.
António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, passionately addressed the urgency of the situation while standing just meters away from the Egyptian side of the bridge. He emphasized the plight of two million individuals who have struggled without access to essential resources, including medicine, food, and water for an extended period. The UN is actively engaged with all relevant parties, striving to ensure that authorized convoys can deliver meaningful quantities of aid to Gaza daily. The goal is to establish a consistent lifeline carrying vital supplies, such as water, food, and medicines, as swiftly and frequently as needed.
Recently arriving in Israel, Guterres brought with him 65 tonnes of humanitarian supplies, including donated food from the World Food Programme, tarpaulins from the UN migration agency IOM, and trauma kits from the World Health Organization (WHO). Expressing hope for a peaceful resolution through a two-state solution, the UN chief emphasized his heartfelt concerns for both Palestinians and Israelis, longing for them to live harmoniously.
Jens Laerke, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), provided updates on ongoing consultations with relevant parties to facilitate a prompt and effective aid operation into Gaza. Laerke expressed optimism about nearing an agreement on the modalities, which would pave the way for the first aid delivery to commence shortly.
Trucks loaded with aid have been stationed at the Rafah border crossing since Saturday. The significance of Rafah as a lifeline for providing assistance to Gaza cannot be overstated. While the specifics of the initial aid operation are still under negotiation, any truck entering would be considered progress, given the pressing need for fuel in Gaza due to a widespread electricity blackout. Laerke emphasized the importance of fuel as a crucial humanitarian commodity in this crisis.
Tragically, the death toll in the Gaza Strip has now risen to 3,785, including at least 1,524 minors, after 13 days of intense fighting. Additionally, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 74 Palestinian homes housing 545 people, mostly children, have been forcibly relocated from 13 herding/Bedouin villages in Area C of the West Bank due to escalating settler violence and access restrictions.
Further exacerbating concerns, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) has expressed alarm over the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied West Bank. Reports have documented an alarming increase in unlawful use of lethal force, arbitrary arrests of Palestinians and Arab Israelis, and incidents of ill-treatment and lack of due process. The OHCHR continues to closely monitor the situation.
As tensions persist and uncertainties loom, the international community awaits concrete progress in the delivery of aid to the desperate population in Gaza. The hope remains that timely and effective humanitarian assistance can alleviate the suffering and pave the way for a more peaceful future in the region.