Gaza urgently needs more aid or its desperate population will suffer widespread famine and disease, the heads of three major U.N. agencies warned Monday, as authorities in the enclave reported that the death toll in the Israel-Hamas war had surpassed 24,000.
While the U.N. agency chiefs did not directly point a finger at Israel, they said aid delivery is hobbled by the opening of too few border crossings, a slow vetting process for trucks and goods going into Gaza, and continuing fighting throughout the territory — all of which Israel plays a deciding factor in.
Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, sparked by the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has prompted unprecedented destruction in the tiny coastal enclave and triggered a humanitarian catastrophe that has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population and pushed more than a quarter into starvation, according to the U.N.
It has also stoked regional tensions, with Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen carrying out strikes in support of the Palestinians. A missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels hit an American-owned cargo ship on Monday, days after U.S.-led strikes against the group over its attacks on international shipping.
In Gaza, civilians have grown desperate. Footage shared online by Al Jazeera showed hundreds of people rushing toward what appeared to be an aid truck in what the news outlet said was Gaza City. The Associated Press couldn't independently verify the video and it wasn't clear when it was filmed.
A day after the White House said it was time for Israel to scale back its military offensive, the World Food Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said that new entry routes need to be opened to Gaza, more trucks need to be allowed in each day, and aid workers and those seeking aid need to be allowed to move around safely.
“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said. “Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk.”
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