Hamas-Israel war: Half of Gaza’s population ‘starving’, UN warns

Half of Gaza’s population is “starving” as aid agencies struggle to get food and medical supplies into the war-torn enclave, a senior United Nations official has warned.
Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said the situation inside Gaza was increasingly chaotic as people grabbed what they could from aid distribution points, with larger numbers of people displaced southwards close to the border with Egypt and aid trucks at risk of being stopped by desperate residents if they even slow down at an intersection.

“Half of the population are starving, nine out of 10 are not eating every day,” he said.

“Obviously the needs are massive.”
Skau said a new system was being tested to bring aid into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, potentially allowing relief to ramp up.

Israel has not yet agreed to open the crossing.

Israel orders more evacuations in Khan Younis

Israel ordered residents out of the centre of Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Saturday and pounded the length of the enclave, after the United States wielded its UN Security Council veto to shield its ally from a demand for a ceasefire.
Since a truce collapsed last week, Israel has expanded its ground assault into the southern half of the Gaza Strip by pushing into Khan Younis. Simultaneously, both sides have reported a surge in fighting in the north.

Israel has bombarded Gaza since Hamas’ 7 October attack in which more than 1,200 people were killed, according to the Israeli government, and over 200 hostages taken. More than 17,700 people have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The significant escalation is the latest in a long-standing conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Israel’s Arabic-language spokesperson posted a map on X highlighting six numbered blocks of Khan Younis that residents were told to evacuate “urgently”. They included parts of the city centre that had not been subject to such orders before.
Israel issued similar warnings before storming eastern parts of the city and residents said they feared new evacuation orders heralded a further assault.
“It might be a matter of time before they act against our area too. We have been hearing bombing all night,” said Zainab Khalil, 57, displaced with 30 of her relatives and friends in Khan Younis near Jalal street where troops told people to leave.

“We don’t sleep at night, we stay awake, we try to put the children to sleep and we stay up fearing the place would be bombed and we’ll have to run carrying the children out. During the day begins another tragedy, and that is: how to feed the children?”

A Palestinian child carrying a blue water tank on his head

Fresh drinking water is in short supply in Gaza. Source: Getty / Anadolu

The vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been forced from their homes, many fleeing several times.

With fighting raging across the length of the territory, residents and UN agencies say there is now effectively nowhere safe to go, though Israel disputes this.
At the UN on Friday, backing a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The United Kingdom abstained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he appreciated the veto, adding that “Israel will continue our just war to eliminate Hamas”.

Hamas is a Palestinian military and political group, which has gained power in the Gaza Strip since winning legislative elections there in 2006. Its stated aim is to establish a Palestinian state, while refusing to recognise Israel’s right to exist.
Hamas, in its entirety, is designated as a terrorist organisation by countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. New Zealand and Paraguay list only its military wing as a terrorist group. In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly voted against a resolution condemning Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.
Israeli forces say they are limiting civilian casualties by providing maps showing areas that are safe, and blame Hamas for harming civilians by hiding among them, which the fighters deny.

Palestinians say the campaign has turned into a scorched-earth war of vengeance against the entire population of an enclave as densely-populated as London.

The US has said it told Israel to do more to fulfill promises it made protect civilians in the next phase of the war. But it still backs Israel’s position that a ceasefire would benefit Hamas.
Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, condemned the US veto as “inhumane”.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority which lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007, said the veto made the United States complicit in Israeli war crimes.