Israel allows first fuel truck into Gaza since breakout of war, but for UN use only
The shortage of fuel has led to the malfunctioning of hospitals, water treatment plants, sewage removal and even communications
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has allowed the first fuel truck carrying over 20,000 litres of diesel to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt since the breakout of the war amid an outcry from international aid organisations that underlined the people's sufferings owing to acute fuel shortage.
Sources with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), however, told IANS that the fuel is "only for the use of the UN and not for hospital purposes". The UNRWA director in Gaza, Thomas White, confirmed that the agency had received the fuel in a post on X.
The shortage of fuel has led to the malfunctioning of hospitals, water treatment plants, sewage removal and even communications, according to the UNRWA, which has been actively involved in humanitarian aid work in Gaza.
The UN had warned that it would have to halt humanitarian operations in Gaza since it was running out of fuel.
Tamara Al Rifai, the UNRWA's executive director, communications, told IANS that the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 500 trucks per day of provisions, aid materials, fuel and other essential commodities for the "minimum functioning of life", saying Gaza was receiving only around 30 trucks per day, which was highly inadequate.
Sources in the UN aid agency also told IANS that two more trucks carrying fuel were lined up outside the Rafah crossing, but it was not clear as to when these trucks would be allowed into the Gaza Strip.
It may be noted that the trucks that cross the Rafah border will have to pass through strict scrutiny of IDF soldiers, which will lead to a significant time lapse in the delivery of aid materials to UN relief centres and warehouses.
The UNRWA has already sheltered nearly 800,000 people who have fled their homes since the Israel ground invasion commenced on 27 October. It has said that this is around half of the total population of Gaza.
On Tuesday, the commissioner-general of UNRWA Philip Lazzarani had posted on X saying the organisation had requested the Israeli military for replenishment of fuel, but had been turned down.
On Monday, the IDF claimed that the Hamas militant group was preventing staff at Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital from collecting fuel as the largest medical facility in the besieged enclave rapidly ran out of electricity, supplies, and food.
In a post on X, IDF had said: "Our troops risked their lives to hand-deliver 300 liters of fuel to the Shifa hospital for urgent medical purposes. Hamas forbade the hospital from taking it.
"Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry has been warning for weeks that its hospitals are running out of fuel. If so, why would they prevent the hospital from receiving it?"