Catastrophic situation Thousands flee fighting in Khan Yunis

“Catastrophic situation”: Thousands flee fighting in Khan Yunis

According to reports, many are fleeing in cars or on foot towards Rafah, on the border with Egypt. According to the UN, around 1.5 million people – around two-thirds of the population of the Gaza Strip – are crammed into emergency shelters and tent camps in poor humanitarian conditions. According to the UN Office of Emergency Relief (OCHA), new evacuation requests from the Israeli army on Wednesday night affect an area of ​​about four square kilometers in Khan Yunis. This also includes hospitals.

According to OCHA, there are currently 88,000 people living in the Chan Junis region, in addition to around 425,000 internally displaced people seeking protection in 24 schools and other facilities, including hospitals. Hundreds of patients and thousands of displaced people are unable to leave hospitals in Khan Yunis due to the fighting, Doctors Without Borders said.

Palestinians fleeing Khan Yunis

APA/AFP Due to fighting near Khan Yunis, thousands of Palestinians flee again towards Rafah

“The entire population of the Gaza Strip faces destruction the scale and speed of which is unprecedented in recent history,” UN chief Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Tuesday. “Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

On Wednesday, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, Thomas White, reported on the bombing of a UN camp with Palestinian refugees in Khan Yunis. “UNRWA camp with tens of thousands of people has just been hit – burning buildings and many casualties,” White wrote on X (Twitter). Thus, two tank shells hit a UNRWA training center where 800 people had sought refuge. Nine deaths and 75 injuries were reported. White did not write who he believed attacked the facility.

“Really very, very small amounts”

The World Food Program (WFP) has warned of an imminent famine in the Gaza Strip. More than half a million people in the Gaza Strip “face catastrophic levels of food insecurity.” Ongoing fighting would limit the delivery of vital food aid.

The situation is getting worse and worse. The situation in the Gaza Strip is unprecedented worldwide, said WFP spokesperson Abeer Etefa. Never before have so many people been at such risk of starvation anywhere in the world in such a short period of time.

Additionally, around 70 percent of requests for food deliveries to the northern Gaza Strip were rejected by Israeli authorities, WFP said. The last deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip with 200 tons of food for 15,000 people were made on January 11th and 13th. These are “very small amounts indeed.” According to WFP, around 730 trucks carrying more than 13 thousand tons of food have arrived in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year.

Food distribution in Rafah

Portal/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa Aid organizations are trying to provide food to people in makeshift shelters in Rafah

In a speech to the Israeli parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the conflict would continue until Hamas' “aggression and evil” were destroyed. “This is a war for our homeland,” he emphasized.

Egypt: Israel delays aid deliveries

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) also raised the alarm that 570,000 people in the Gaza Strip face hunger and called for better access to humanitarian aid.

Intense fighting, denials and restrictions of access, and communications failures would hamper assistance. A group of eight UN human rights experts recently accused Israel of using starvation as a war tactic.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday accused Israel of delaying the delivery of aid. Israel's procedures for allowing transport made transportation difficult, despite the Rafah border crossing being open 24 hours a day. “This is part of their (Israelis, mind you) efforts to press for the release of the hostages.”

Fewer aid deliveries than before the war

Israel, on the other hand, pointed to continued deliveries over the weekend. A few days ago, Israel opened its port of Ashdod for deliveries of flour to the Gaza Strip and, since the end of December, a second border crossing into the Palestinian territory, Kerem Shalom, has been opened for aid convoys.

Since the start of the Gaza war, nearly 10,000 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid have arrived in the Gaza Strip, Israel said. But there weren't even 100 trucks a day. Before the start of the war, around 500 trucks carrying humanitarian goods entered the area every day.

Dangerous Reports

Reporting from the Gaza Strip is also becoming more dangerous. Israeli security authorities banned access to Israeli and foreign journalists on the grounds that Israeli soldiers and journalists themselves could be in danger.

Many of the reports coming from the Gaza Strip are carried out by Palestinian journalists at the risk of their lives. On Tuesday, Motas Asaisa, following well-known Al-Jazeera correspondent Wael al-Dahduh, also announced that he had to leave the war zone “for many reasons”. He did not give details.


Middle East: What will the future of the region be like?

Asaisa photographed daily life in the war zone up close. He was named Man of the Year for his work on GQ magazine's Middle East edition. He is a “global figure, a means of resistance and the embodiment of hope for the people in Gaza and for all of us in the rest of the world.”

UN: Mistreatment of prisoners

Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners has recently drawn criticism from the UN Human Rights Office. Ajit Sunghay, a human rights office representative, said late last week that some men were being released after more than eight weeks of detention, wearing only diapers. They reported beatings, humiliation and ill-treatment that may have amounted to torture. Sunghay called for an investigation into the allegations.

Until now, Israel has kept the fate and number of Gaza Strip prisoners secret, according to a report by Palestinian rights groups cited by the New York Times (“NYT”). The UN Human Rights Office estimates there are thousands of prisoners so far. In response to criticism, the Israeli army emphasized that it adheres to international law when taking prisoners. It is often necessary to examine the clothing of suspected terrorists for explosives and weapons.

The International Committee of the Red Cross receives daily reports from families in Gaza about the arrest of family members, a spokesperson told the NYT. The organization is currently working on 4,000 cases of missing Palestinians. But only in very few cases was there evidence that those affected were still alive.