Israel-Palestine conflict: UN relief chief calls Gaza 'uninhabitable'

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said nearly three months after the conflict began, Gaza has "become a place of death and despair"

Thousands of displaced Palestinians have arrived in Rafah in southern Gaza, which lies on the border with Egypt. (representative image) (photo: DW)
Thousands of displaced Palestinians have arrived in Rafah in southern Gaza, which lies on the border with Egypt. (representative image) (photo: DW)


UN relief chief says Gaza has become 'uninhabitable'

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said Friday, 5 January that "three months since the horrific 7 October attacks, Gaza has become a place of death and despair." 

Hamas carried out terror attacks on Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel and taking some 240 people hostage. In response, Israel launched a military operation against Hamas in Gaza, with limited humanitarian supplies allowed into the Gaza Strip.

Griffiths decried the deaths of "tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children" and said "medical facilities are under relentless attack."

He said a "public health disaster is unfolding," while noting that "famine is around the corner."

"Gaza has simply become uninhabitable. Its people are witnessing daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on," Griffiths said.

"We continue to demand an immediate end to the war," Griffiths said, adding that "it is time for the parties to meet all their obligations under international law, including to protect civilians and meet their essential needs, and to release all hostages immediately."

France, Jordan jointly airdrop medical supplies to Gaza

France and Jordan have airdropped aid to help civilians in Gaza, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday, 5 January.

"The humanitarian situation remains critical in Gaza," Macron wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. "In a difficult context, France and Jordan delivered aid by air to the population and those who help them."

A French presidency official told Reuters news agency that the seven metric tons of urgent humanitarian assistance would go to a southern Gaza field hospital in Khan Younis. The official said French and Jordanian aircraft took part in the humanitarian operation.   

Reuters reported that the French official did not comment on whether Israel gave its support for the aid operation.

Gaza faces a massive humanitarian crisis. With the exception of a brief pause in fighting that saw relatively more aid reaching Gaza, Israel has blocked the delivery of most food, water, fuel and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip. Israel has accused Hamas of stealing aid meant for civilians in Gaza. The group denies the allegation.

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah vows 'inevitable' retaliation to Arouri killing

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday, 5 January vowed that there would be "inevitable" retaliation after the killing of senior Hamas figure Saleh Arouri in Beirut earlier this week.

"The response is inevitably coming," Nasrallah said in a televised address. "We cannot remain silent on a violation of this magnitude because it means the whole of Lebanon will be exposed.

"The decision is now in the hands of the battlefield," he continued. "Fighters from all areas of the border...will be the ones responding to the dangerous violation in the suburbs."    

Arouri was killed Tuesday in an apparent drone attack in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese capital. Hamas has alleged that Israel was behind the killing. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied having a role in Arouri's killing, though Israeli officials have pledged to hunt down Hamas leaders around the world. 

Nasrallah gave an earlier speech on Wednesday after the killing, in which he warned Israel against going to war against Lebanon. 

Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group in Lebanon that formed after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. Hezbollah has both political and military factions.

The US, UK, Germany, the Arab League and Israel all view the entire Hezbollah organization as a terror group. The EU designates Hezbollah's military faction as a terror group.   

Hamas, meanwhile, controls the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian territories. Affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas was founded by Palestinian Imam Ahmed Yassin in 1987.

Hamas carried out attacks on Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 people hostage. The attacks led to the current Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza, which has led to the deaths of more than 22,000 people and displaced almost 2 million more, according to the Hamas-led Health Ministry. 

Hamas is not only designated a terror organization by Israel but also by the United States, Germany and the EU, among others.   

Shipping giant Maersk to avoid Red Sea for 'foreseeable future'

Danish shipping giant Maersk said it would divert all vessels to avoid the Red Sea and Suez Canal for the "forseeable future" due to a spate of attacks by Yemen-based Houthi militants.

"The situation is constantly evolving and remains highly volatile, and all available intelligence at hand confirms that the security risk continues to be at a significantly elevated level," Maersk said in a statement.

Maersk said earlier this week it would pause all vessels bound for the Red Sea following an attack on one of its ships by Houthi militants. The company said it has begun redirecting ships around Africa.

The Iranian-backed Houthis have stepped up attacks on ships in the Gulf region to show their support for Palestinian Islamist group Hamas fighting Israel in Gaza.

Gaza death toll surpasses 22,600, Hamas health authorities say

At least 22,600 people have been killed and another 57,910 injured in Gaza since the start of the conflict, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory has said.

Some 162 Palestinians were killed and 296 wounded in the last 24 hours, the ministry added in a statement.

While the Health Ministry doesn't differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, international humanitarian agencies consider the numbers provided by the body to be broadly reliable.

The ministry has said the majority of people killed in Gaza have been women and children.

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Published: 06 Jan 2024, 8:31 AM