Israel-Hamas war, day 159: aid delivery at the center of concerns; UNRWA employee killed

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) announced on Wednesday the death of one of its employees in the bombing of a warehouse in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, as the international community searches for to diversify the delivery routes for humanitarian aid in the enclave threatened by famine

Israel-Hamas war, day 159: aid delivery at the center of concerns; UNRWA employee killed

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) announced on Wednesday the death of one of its employees in the bombing of a warehouse in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, as the international community searches for to diversify the delivery routes for humanitarian aid in the enclave threatened by famine.

“At least one UNRWA employee was killed and twenty-two others injured in an Israeli strike against a food distribution center in eastern Rafah,” announced a statement from the agency. The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, administered by Hamas, for its part, reported four deaths in the “bombing” of the warehouse. Asked by Agence-France-Presse, the Israeli army did not comment on the subject.

“Today’s attack on one of the few UNRWA distribution centers still functional in the Gaza Strip comes at a time when malnutrition, even famine in certain areas, is spreading,” deplores Philippe Lazzarini, director of the organization, in a press release. “Every day we give our contact details to the parties in conflict. The Israeli army received the coordinates, including those of this center, yesterday [Tuesday],” he adds.

In twenty-four hours, at least 88 people were killed in Israeli bombings which particularly affected the south of the Gaza Strip, which has been devastated and besieged since October 9 by Israel, according to the local health ministry. In the sixth month of the war triggered by the bloody Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, the death toll, according to him, stands at 31,272, mostly civilians, and the UN fears "a famine generalized.”

“We expect the Israeli government to make this issue a priority. Protecting civilians, getting people the help they need, that must be the number one priority, even as they do what is necessary to defend the country and deal with the threat posed by Hamas. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the press.

With no truce on the horizon and while aid by land under Israeli control is only arriving in trickles, several countries as well as the European Union (EU) have decided to transport it by sea and air.

A first boat loaded with 200 tonnes of food left the Cypriot port of Larnaca for Gaza on Tuesday, using a corridor set up by the EU and several countries. This boat from the Spanish NGO Open Arms, which operates at very low speed, was about 260 kilometers from Gaza on Wednesday, according to the VesselFinder website.

Cyprus, about 370 kilometers from Palestinian territory, announced that a second, “much larger” shipment was in preparation. Four American army boats also left the United States with around a hundred soldiers and the equipment necessary to build a pier and a dock in Gaza. The trip should take around thirty days and the installation will be ready “within sixty days”, according to American authorities.

The project is “a sign of impotence and weakness on the part of the international community”, judged the secretary general of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, on Wednesday during a press conference in Madrid. “The international community must be prepared to hold Israel accountable,” she said.

For around ten days, several Arab and Western countries, including the United States, have been dropping meals and medical aid daily, especially in the North, where the situation is particularly desperate, but these means cannot replace the land route. , estimates the UN.

“When we study alternative routes to deliver aid, by sea or by air, we must remember that we must do so because the usual land route is closed and starving the population is used as a a weapon of war,” said the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

According to the Hamas health ministry, at least twenty-seven people, mostly children, have died of malnutrition and dehydration in the Gaza Strip, already under a total Israeli blockade since the 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip. territory by Hamas.

The Israeli army announced a "pilot project" which on Tuesday allowed the unprecedented entry of six aid trucks from the World Food Program (WFP) directly into the north of the Gaza Strip, but the WFP believes that 300 per day are needed to meet the needs of 2.4 million residents.

Since the start of the war, aid has entered Gaza via two terminals on Israel's southern border. Despite international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains determined to continue his offensive against Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, the EU and the United States.

“Israel will win this war whatever the cost. And, to win it, Israel must destroy the last Hamas battalions in Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians are crowded, the vast majority displaced, he reaffirmed.

Faced with the intransigence of the protagonists, the mediating countries – United States, Qatar, Egypt – are unable to secure a truce agreement accompanied by the release of hostages, which was hoped for during Ramadan, which began this year. week. “We are not close to an agreement,” Qatar said.

On the Israeli-Lebanese border, the violence also knows no respite. On Wednesday, Hamas announced the death of a member of its armed wing, Hadi Mustapha, and another person in an attack attributed to Israel on a car in southern Lebanon. Two suspected members of the armed wing of Hamas were also killed Wednesday morning during an Israeli raid in Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, according to corroborating sources.