In the name of god. Save the children: Aid charities demand immediate ceasefire
Video recorded by the Channel 12 News CCTV shows rockets landing on a Gaza hospital
Aid charities are demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Hamas-Israel war, pleading: “For the sake of innocents, stop the shelling.”
As grieving families held funerals for children killed by the strikes on Gaza, rescue workers feared at least 600 infants were buried in the rubble.
Agencies said many thousands of people in the besieged Palestinian enclave have been starved of food, sanitation and medicine, and are reduced to drinking polluted water in desperation.
Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of the charity ActionAid UK, said: “We demand more on behalf of innocent people on all sides caught up in this spiralling catastrophe [starting] with one crucial goal: an immediate ceasefire. Our colleagues in the region and those they support cling to hope as their last lifeline. We must ensure that hope does not slip away.”
The pleas for peace came as the United Nations urged both sides to allow the creation of aid “corridors” into the shattered territory. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called for “rapid, unimpeded humanitarian access” to the Gaza Strip’s 2.4 million residents, as Israel kept up its retaliation for Hamas’s rampage through several of its southern towns on October 7.
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He added: “We need food, water, medicine and fuel now. We need it at scale and we need it to be sustained, it is not one small operation that is required. In plain terms, that means humanitarians need to be able to get aid in and they need to be able to distribute it safely.”
A first consignment of 20 trucks loaded with emergency supplies was expected to pass through Egypt’s Rafah crossing into Gaza today, under UN supervision.
But agencies said that only a full stop to the conflict would let them establish safe routes to deliver enough food, water and medicine.
The US used its veto at the UN security council on Wednesday to block a resolution calling on Israel to allow a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting to open such corridors.
Its ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the resolution unacceptable as it did not mention Israel’s right to self-defence. The UK abstained, saying the wording did not cover Hamas using Palestinians as human shields.
The US State Department last night told all Americans “to exercise increased caution”, due to escalating tensions in the Middle East, and warned of “the potential for terrorist attacks, [and] demonstrations or violent actions against US citizens and interests”.
Israel’s counteroffensive has ignited protests across the region and beyond. The US embassy in Beirut was evacuated as protestors stormed barricades and set fires around the compound.
Some 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured since Hamas invaded Israel. UN children’s aid agency Unicef said Gazan families were drinking from the sea and dirty wells.
Saleem Oweis, its Middle East and Africa chief, warned of the risk of “diseases, dehydration and eventually death for children”. He added: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is really catastrophic.”
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qudra said it “believes there are survivors in the rubble, but the process of reaching them is severely hampered due to constant air strikes”.
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Israel cut off food, water, electricity and fuel to Gaza in response to the October 7 attack and vowed not let supplies in from its territory until Hamas frees all of its hostages.
The World Health Organisation said the crisis was “spiralling out of control”. Its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “Our trucks are loaded and ready to go.
“We are working with the Egypt and Palestine Red Crescent Societies to deliver our supplies into Gaza as soon as the Rafah crossing is opened.
“Fuel is also needed for hospital generators, ambulances and desalination plants – and we urge Israel to add fuel to the life-saving supplies allowed.”
Aline Rumonge, head of supply chains at the UN World Food Programme, told the BBC: “We have more than 1,000 metric tonnes of food at the Egyptian border in Rafah.” She said the 60 trucks’ worth could feed just under half a million people for one week.
The Gazan home of Save the Children worker Ahmed – a father of six with five aged under 18 – was hit by air strikes. He said: “What you worked your whole life for is gone, your house is destroyed.
“What is worse is that all night long you are awake to the sound of air strikes and the screams of your children. We need your prayers.” More than 200 organisations, including Save the Children, signed an open letter demanding an immediate ceasefire.
It read: “The events of the last week have led us to the precipice of a humanitarian catastrophe and the world can no longer wait.”
Oxfam, War Child UK and Islamic Relief have also called on heads of state and the UN Security Council to “prioritise the preservation of human life above all else”.
Israel yesterday struck the Gazan towns of Khan Yunis and Deir Al-Balah plus parts of the south of the strip which it had declared would be safe while it reduced the territory to “rubble and dust”.
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The Gazan health ministry claimed that of 3,478 Palestinians killed and 12,065 hurt, 70% were children, women or elderly. The toll includes some 500 civilians reported to have died when a rocket blew up the al-Ahli hospital where they had taken shelter.
The Israel Defence Forces have claimed that a missile fired at them by Islamist terrorists within Gaza malfunctioned and hit the compound – but Hamas officials accuse the Jerusalem regime of lying.
At least six Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military operation yesterday in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Red Crescent aid group said: “There are difficulties in reaching some of the injured individuals and ambulances with injured people inside are being detained by occupying forces.”
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said a humanitarian crisis in Gaza was “looming” and added Britain was doing “everything we can” to help those in need.
Amnesty International said: “We are horrified by the escalating violence in recent days and the mounting civilian death toll.
“Hamas’s shocking summary killings and abductions of civilians displayed a chilling disregard for life and for international law.
“Deliberate attacks on civilians and hostage-taking are war crimes and cannot be justified. Hamas and other armed groups must end deliberate attacks on civilians, the firing of indiscriminate rockets, and hostage-taking. They must release civilian hostages immediately.
“Relentless Israeli air strikes are now pounding Gaza. Civilians in Gaza have nowhere to seek safety.
“The collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population by Israeli authorities is a war crime – it is cruel and inhumane.
“Palestinian civilians are not responsible for the crimes of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and according to international law Israeli authorities must not make them suffer for acts they have played no role in and cannot control.”
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