06 January 2024

Gaza has become ‘uninhabitable’, says UN humanitarian chief

06 January 2024

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief says Gaza has become “uninhabitable” three months after Hamas’s attacks against Israel and “a public health disaster is unfolding”.

Martin Griffiths said in a statement on Friday that “people are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded (and) famine is around the corner”.

And Gazans are “witnessing daily threats to their very existence – while the world watches on”, he said.

The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, have been killed or injured, families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet, and areas where Palestinians were told to relocate have been bombed.

The few partially functioning hospitals are overwhelmed and critically short of supplies, infectious diseases are spreading, and amid the chaos some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth every day, he said.

Mr Griffiths reiterated UN demands for an immediate end to the war and the release of all hostages, declaring: “It is time for the international community to use all its influence to make this happen.”

He said the humanitarian community is facing an “impossible mission” of supporting more than two million people in Gaza while aid workers are killed, communications blackouts continue, roads are damaged, truck convoys are shot at, and vital commercial supplies “are almost non-existent.”

Gaza has shown “the worst of humanity”, Mr Griffiths said, and it is “long past time for the war to end”.

Also on Friday the Israeli military said it is preparing an investigation into failures connected with the Octobr 7 Hamas attack that triggered the ongoing war against the militant group.

The army’s chief spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said the military is still planning the investigation. But he said it would include a look at the chain of command, decision making and former officials.

He said the investigation aims “to improve the army” and is not meant to replace any future external investigations.

On October 7, several thousand Hamas militants stormed across the border and invaded nearly two dozen Israeli communities and army bases, killing some 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage. It was the worst such attack in Israel’s history.

Israeli military, intelligence and political leaders have come under heavy criticism for being caught off guard.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected calls for an investigation, saying the government must focus on the war and answer questions later.

The public broadcaster Kan reported earlier that a Security Cabinet meeting late on Thursday broke up after four hard-line Cabinet ministers shouted at the army’s commander in chief because they opposed his plans for the investigation.

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