ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’

Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid…reports Asian Lite News

Days after Israel announced a daily pause in fighting on a key route to allow more aid into Gaza, chaos in the besieged Palestinian territory has left vital supplies piled up and undistributed in the searing summer heat.

More than eight months of war have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and repeated UN warnings of famine.

William Schomburg, International Committee of the Red Cross chief in Rafah, described Rafah City as a “ghost town.”

“It is a ghost town in the sense that you see very few people, high levels of destruction, and just another symbol of the unfolding tragedy that has become Gaza over the last nine months,” he said.

The UN food agency has said its aid convoys have been looted inside Gaza by “desperate people.”

Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.

Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up deliveries.

“The breakdown of public order and safety is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations in Gaza,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said in a briefing.

“Alongside the fighting, criminal activities and the risk of theft and robbery has effectively prevented humanitarian access to critical locations.”

But Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks of aid into southern Gaza, trading blame with the UN over why the aid is stacking up.

It shared aerial footage of containers lined up on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom crossing and more trucks arriving to add to the stockpile.

With civil order breaking down in Gaza, the UN says it has been unable to pick up any supplies from Kerem Shalom since Tuesday, leaving crucial aid in limbo.

Israeli strikes kill at least 42 in Gaza

At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.

One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip’s eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta said. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: “A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City.”

Exchanges of fire across the Lebanese border between Israel and the powerful Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah have also escalated in recent weeks, raising fears of an even wider war.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the cross-border hostilities must not turn Lebanon into “another Gaza,” warning of the risk of triggering a catastrophe “beyond imagination.”

His warning came as Israel stepped up its strikes in the Gaza Strip, where one hospital in Gaza City reported at least 30 dead on Friday.

And in the city’s Zeitun neighborhood, Israeli helicopters fired at militants, witnesses said. The Israeli military meanwhile said troops continued to carry out operations in central Gaza “eliminating several armed terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure in the area.”

“Fighter jets and additional aircraft struck numerous terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including armed terrorists, weapons storage facilities, and additional terrorist infrastructure,” it added.

In southern Gaza, the ICRC on Friday said 22 dead and 45 wounded people were taken to a Red Cross field hospital after shelling with “heavy calibre projectiles” near its Gaza office.

“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures puts the lives of civilians and humanitarians at risk,” the ICRC said on X.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory blamed the shelling on Israel, saying there were 25 killed and 50 wounded in the southern coastal Al-Mawasi area, where thousands of displaced people have been sheltering in tents.

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