Israel-Hamas war: UN warns of more Gaza child deaths

UN agencies warn Gaza is on the verge of an "explosion" in preventable child deaths. Meanwhile, the US has proposed a temporary cease-fire in Gaza in a draft UN resolution

Clean drinking water has become 'incredibly scarce' in Gaza, according to the UN. (photo: DW)
Clean drinking water has become 'incredibly scarce' in Gaza, according to the UN. (photo: DW)


  • UN agencies warn of a potential 'explosion' in Gaza child deaths

  • The US pushes for UN to support temporary Gaza cease-fire linked to hostage release

  • Brazilian President Lula declared 'persona non grata' in Israel over Holocaust remark

Dozens of Hamas militants killed near Khan Younis — Israeli military

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday said that its soldiers had killed dozens of Hamas militants in fighting west of Khan Younis.

The IDF said warplanes conducted an aerial strike on a Hamas munitions warehouse, which it said led to "sub-explosions."

The IDF also reported confrontations with Hamas fighters involving tanks and sniper fire.

The information provided by the IDF cannot be independently verified.

The ongoing war in Gaza began after Hamas and other affiliated groups launched a large-scale terror attack in southern Israel on October 7. More than 1,200 people were killed, and around 240 others were taken hostage, though nearly half of those taken captive were released during a November truce.

Israel's leaders have vowed to destroy the Islamist Hamas militant group, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and other governments.

Israel's military responded to the terror attack by launching airstrikes and a ground operation in the Palestinian territory.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says that over 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

US proposes UN resolution supporting 'temporary cease-fire,' opposing Rafah offensive

The United States has proposed a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for a temporary cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and opposing a major Israeli ground offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

The proposal comes after Washington vowed to veto an Algerian-drafted proposal that demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. The US cited concerns that the resolution could undermine talks between the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar over the potential release of hostages held by Hamas and cessation of hostilities.

The US-backed text would see the Security Council "underscore its support for a temporary cease-fire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."

It also "determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries."

Around a million of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip have sought shelter in Rafah. The UN has warned that a major Israeli offensive in the city "could lead to a slaughter."

Washington has previously opposed Security Council resolutions using the word "cease-fire," instead backing texts that called for "humanitarian pauses."

In order to pass, the resolution would need at least 9 votes and no vetoes from any of the five permanent Security Council members — the US, France, the UK, Russia and China.

UN warns of more Gaza child deaths

A lack of food and safe water, as well as malnutrition and disease, could lead to a spike in child deaths in Gaza, United Nations officials warned.

In a joint statement, the UN children's agency UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the World Health Organization (WHO) said at least 90% of children under five in Gaza are affected by one or more infectious diseases.

Data collected in January showed 70% of children had had diarrhea two weeks before the assessment.

"The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza," Ted Chaibans, UNICEF deputy executive director for humanitarian action and supply operations, said.

One in six children under the age of two were acutely malnourished, according to surveys in the region's north.

"Hunger and disease are a deadly combination," WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said.

The WHO found that 95% of households "are limiting meals and portion sizes," and 64% of households eat only one meal daily.

More than 95% of households also said they had restricted the amount of food adults ate in order to ensure small children had food, the WHO said.

Brazil-Israel row over Lula's comments escalates

The diplomatic fallout over Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's comparison of Israel's military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust has intensified.

Israel declared Lula "persona non grata," and Brazil recalled its envoy on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula had "crossed a red line," and Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the Brazilian president is "persona non grata in the state of Israel so long as he doesn't retract his remarks and apologize."

On Monday, Katz summoned Brazilian Ambassador Frederico Meyer to Israel's National Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem for a meeting.

"The things that Lula said when he compared the righteous war of the State of Israel against Hamas, which murdered and massacred the Jews, and Hitler and the Nazis is shameful and unacceptable," Katz said.

In a tit-for-tat move, Brazil's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that it had also summoned the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Zonshine, "in light of the seriousness of this morning's statements by the Israeli government."

Brazil has recalled Meyer from Tel Aviv for consultations.

On Sunday, Lula da Silva said that "what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian people hasn't been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

Lula made the comments while addressing the media at the African Union summit in Ethiopia.

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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 2:02 PM