Israeli tanks entered the edge of Gaza City today, as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) carried out raids against armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank, where they were pelted with rocks. This escalation in military operations by Israel comes in the midst of a warning from a UN official regarding the social collapse in the Gaza Strip. The UN official reported looting of warehouses for food and families being forced to drink dirty water.
The situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly dire, with fears rising for the more than 2.2 million people living in the territory. Israel is intensifying its assault on Hamas as part of the "second stage" of its mission to eliminate the group. The IDF reported killing 'dozens' of Hamas fighters in clashes inside Gaza. Hamas also confirmed heavy fighting with Israeli forces in northern Gaza.
The ongoing conflict has resulted in a significant death toll, with the health ministry in Gaza reporting 8,000 civilian casualties. The Israeli military operation has prompted evacuations in the north of Gaza, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians unable to escape. The north-south highway, a key road, has been cut off by Israeli tanks, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
According to UN figures, around 117,000 displaced people are seeking refuge in hospitals in northern Gaza. UN officials have warned that the social fabric of Gaza is breaking, with reports of mobs looting warehouses and drinking contaminated water. Aid deliveries, though limited, have resumed, but much more is required, especially fuel to operate medical equipment and water and sanitation facilities.
The dire situation affects not only those in Gaza but also the ability of aid organizations to provide assistance. The UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRA) director in Gaza expressed concern about the collapse of the public and private sectors. Many civilians remain in the north of Gaza due to a lack of transportation, taking shelter in schools run by UNRA and hospitals. The safety of these civilians must be ensured under international law.
The conflict has also led to attacks on hospitals, putting patients and displaced civilians at risk. Both Al-Quds hospital and surrounding areas have been repeatedly targeted by Israeli bombings. The World Health Organization and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society have expressed deep concern over these attacks.
Food shortages and a lack of potable water are major concerns. UNRA has highlighted the insufficient food reserves and the growing risk of infectious diseases due to the consumption of non-potable water. The deteriorating infrastructure and lack of power further complicate the situation, with hospitals struggling to operate critical equipment.
In response to the escalating humanitarian crisis, the US has urged Israel to increase the entry of humanitarian aid. Despite the slight increase in aid deliveries and restoration of communications services, the situation remains dire, with fears of wider conflict looming in the region.