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Aid agencies urge Gaza ceasefire, warn of catastrophic humanitarian cost in ongoing Israel-Hamas war

Aid agencies are renewing pleas for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip amid the Israel-Hamas war, warning of catastrophic humanitarian consequences if the besieged enclave’s population continue to be denied access to the essentials for survival.

“People in Gaza have been exposed to absolute horrors. There’s just relentless bombing happening constantly. It is a living nightmare for everybody who’s stuck in Gaza,” said Mr Faris Al-Jawad, an interim communications manager at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a non-governmental organisation known as Doctors Without Borders in English.

Medical personnel on the ground have described the scenes unfolding in Gaza as apocalyptic, he said. 

“Conditions are absolutely appalling. There’s a lack of everything – water, food, medicine, you name it, it’s not there,” he told CNA’s Asia Tonight on Tuesday (Nov 7).

Israel has rejected the mounting international pressure, saying hostages taken by the militant group should first be released. Israel also worries that a ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup.

The United States has been trying to convince Israel to agree to humanitarian corridors, or so-called “tactical pauses”.

Ms Hiba told CNA’s Asia Now that such temporary relief will not be enough.

“These pauses are short term and for selected areas. It will not be possible for aid teams to operate as efficiently as compared to the longer term ceasefire where we are more in a capacity to receive, distribute and save lives,” she said.

“Of course, this (a ‘pause’) is still better than nothing,” she added.

The MSF has called on Israeli authorities to show “the most elementary humanity” and set up safe zones. 

“(But) there is absolutely no sign of that whatsoever. There’s no safe space, and no relent in the bombing,” said Mr Al-Jawad, who is based in the West Bank.

“Supplies need to come in. We need an immediate ceasefire so that at least we can start getting medicines, supplies and personnel in, and those who need to leave Gaza (should be allowed) to leave.”

OVERCROWDED LIVING SPACES

On Oct 12, Israel told more than 1 million civilians in the north to move to the already overcrowded south. The United Nations said around 60 per cent of the population were displaced in a span of 24 hours.

Residents who arrived late to the south and who were unable to find shelter have been left to fend for themselves outdoors. This adds to an already desperate situation as the winter season approaches.

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