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'Many more to die' from Gaza siege, UN warns on day 21 of war

JERUSALEM: The UN warned Friday (Oct 27) that “many more will die” in Gaza from catastrophic shortages after nearly three weeks of bombardment by Israel in response to Hamas staging the deadliest attack in its history.

And it raised the alarm over “war crimes” being committed as the deadly Israel-Hamas conflict raged into its 21st day as the army said its troops had mounted another brief land incursion into Gaza as it prepares for a ground offensive.

Concern is growing about regional fallout from the conflict, with the United States warning Iran against escalation while striking facilities in Syria it says were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and others.

Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza since Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on Oct 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping over 220 others, according to Israeli officials.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says the strikes have now killed 7,326 people, mainly civilians and many of them children.

“People in Gaza are dying, they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of (the) siege,” said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Israel has cut supplies of food, water and power to Gaza, notably blocking all deliveries of fuel saying it would be exploited by Hamas to manufacture weapons and explosives.

“Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage,” Lazzarini said of the overcrowded territory where 45 per cent of housing is reported to have been damaged or destroyed.


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In Geneva, the UN human rights office raised the alarm over war crimes, saying “the atrocious attacks by Hamas … amounted to war crimes” but also pointing to Israel’s Gaza bombardment.

“Nowhere is safe in Gaza. Compelling people to evacuate in these circumstances … and while under a complete siege raises serious concerns over forcible transfer, which is a war crime,” she said of Israel’s order for northern Gaza residents to flee south.

And a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding for Gazans who were “being collectively punished” which “is a war crime”, she said.

A first tranche of critically needed aid was allowed in at the weekend but since then only 74 trucks have crossed. Before the conflict, the UN says an average of 500 trucks were entering Gaza every day.

“These few trucks are nothing more than crumbs that will not make a difference,” Lazzarini said, insisting Gaza needed a “meaningful and uninterrupted aid flow” and a “humanitarian ceasefire to ensure this aid reaches those in need”.

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