Hunger Rampant In Gaza As Israel, Hamas Fighting Intensifies


Fighting intensified between Hamas and Israel on Thursday as a U.N.-backed body warned that the entire population of Gaza – more than 2 million people – is at crisis levels or worse of hunger and the potential for famine is on the horizon.

Heavy Israeli bombardments were reported in northern Gaza, and warplanes struck targets in central and southern parts of the enclave. Four people were reportedly killed in southern Gaza at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, according to Hamas. Israel’s military appeared to deny involvement, saying it was not familiar with the incident.

Ten weeks into the war, Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror organization, showed it still has the ability to launch rockets at the Jewish state, as sirens sounded in central Israel. The Israel Defense Forces posted maps showing rocket alarms stretching from Ashkelon, just north of the Gaza Strip, up to the Tel Aviv area.

No casualties were reported as the country’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted the rockets.

Israel’s military also said Thursday that its forces had carried out attacks against 230 targets in Gaza during the past day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that his military would continue fighting until Hamas was eliminated and its remaining hostages were free.

The war, sparked by Hamas’ October 7 terror attack inside Israel that killed about 1,200 people and saw some 240 others taken hostage, has led to a dire humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza, where the Hamas-run health ministry says 20,000 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 2 million others have been displaced.

Hunger rapidly rising

The U.N.-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initiative (IPC) said in a report Thursday that hostilities, “including bombardment, ground operations and besiegement of the entire population,” have caused “catastrophic levels” of acute food insecurity.

IPC said more than 1 in 4 households face extreme hunger and there is a risk of famine unless access to adequate food, clean water, health and sanitation services are restored.

“WFP has warned of this coming catastrophe for weeks,” World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain said of the IPC’s findings. “Tragically, without the safe, consistent access we have been calling for, the situation is desperate, and no one in Gaza is safe from starvation.”

Israel says it is cooperating in allowing aid to enter Gaza. It opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Sunday for aid convoys to transit, and the IDF is allowing tactical pauses in some areas of southern Gaza for civilians to get food and water. Kerem Shalom is located near the three borders of Israel, the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Diplomatic efforts

The U.N. Security Council has been negotiating a resolution that, if adopted, would help scale up aid access to Gaza. But a vote has been repeatedly delayed this week because of objections from the United States over some language in the draft text.

“Still working it. Still hoping to be able to support it. Not there yet.” Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy U.N. ambassador, told reporters Thursday ahead of a planned vote that was ultimately delayed.

Diplomats said Washington and Israel did not want the U.N. to be in charge of a monitoring mechanism that would inspect aid entering Gaza to make sure it is humanitarian in nature.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. wanted to make sure that the resolution advances the delivery of assistance and does not impede it.

The United Nations has said that even if sufficient humanitarian supplies were permitted into Gaza, security, fuel and disrupted communications would still make it difficult to deliver the supplies. It has called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

Some diplomats were still hopeful that a vote could take place Thursday.

New evacuation areas

On Wednesday, the Israeli military designated a new area covering about 20% of central and southern Khan Younis city for immediate evacuation and published it on social media.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs said more than 250,000 people – residents and displaced Gazans – were staying in the zone.

OCHA said residents might have difficulty accessing this information because of the electricity blackout and interruptions in telecommunications.

Telecommunications were down across most of Gaza for an eighth consecutive day.

VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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