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UN warns order 'starting to break down' as Israel pounds Gaza

Health ministry in Gaza says more than 8,000 people killed, half of them children

By AFP - Oct 30,2023 - Last updated at Oct 29,2023

A photo taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows smoke rising following Israeli bombardment in the north of the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

GAZA STRIP, Occupied Palestine — Desperate Palestinians in Gaza burst into aid centres after more than three weeks of siege and bombardment, the UN said on Sunday.

Despite calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, international outrage and the potential risk to hostages held in Gaza, Israel has intensified the war.

Health ministry in Gaza said the Israeli bombardment has killed more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians and half of them children.

Panic and fear have surged inside the Palestinian territory, where the UN says more than half of its 2.4 million residents are displaced and thousands of buildings destroyed.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said the situation was "growing more desperate by the hour" as casualties increase and essential supplies of food, water, medicine and shelter dwindle.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said "thousands of people" broke into several of its warehouses and distribution centres in Gaza, grabbing basic survival items like wheat flour and hygiene supplies.

“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down,” it said.

Outside a bakery in southern Gaza’s Rafah, Etidal Al Masri was queueing but did not know if she would get bread.

Having been displaced from the northern Strip, Masri lamented that Gazans “must now queue for bread, toilets and even for sleep”.

Communications were down for days after Israel cut internet lines, although connectivity was gradually returning on Sunday.

Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, voiced shock at the suffering in Gaza and urged all sides to de-escalate.

“This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate,” she said.

A US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 40 more aid trucks may enter Gaza on Sunday and that Israel was committed to allowing 100 to arrive daily.

A Gaza health ministry spokesman said “hundreds” were killed and wounded on Sunday in “unprecedented” Israeli military action.

Israeli fighter jets again dropped leaflets over Gaza City on Saturday, warning residents that the northern area was now a “battlefield” and they should “evacuate immediately”.

After dozens of aid trucks entered the territory in recent days, far below the estimated needs, Hagari vowed humanitarian efforts would expand.


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