UN says Gaza aid program in tatters, Israel pushes for attack

AMMAN, Jordan — Israel’s humanitarian operation in the densely populated Gaza Strip has fallen sharply amid a ferocious military campaign to destroy the militant Hamas network, the United Nations said.

The Israel Defense Forces announced a new round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, centered on the south’s largest city of Khan Yunis, on Friday, striking 450 targets with a mix of ground, naval and air assets. It describes close combats.

Hamas said it foiled an attempt by Israeli special forces to rescue the hostage, which led to the man’s death. The IDF declined to comment on the announcement and The Post was unable to verify details of battlefield updates from both sides.

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Intense fighting in the south and parts of the north has disrupted communications and travel throughout the Gaza Strip, making aid delivery largely impossible. According to Martin Griffiths, UN Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs

“We no longer have a humanitarian operation called by that name in southern Gaza,” he said late Thursday in Geneva, insisting that despite Israeli assurances, “there are no safe areas to protect and therefore provide for civilians.” Help them. But without safe havens, that plan falls apart.

He said aid delivery had become opportunistic and while agencies were doing it where they could, they weren’t necessarily reaching those in need: “It’s disorganized, it’s unreliable, frankly, it’s not sustainable.”

The deep plight of civilians struggling with inadequate food, water and the spread of disease across the Gaza Strip has drawn retaliation from the United States, Israel’s staunchest ally in its mission to destroy Hamas. At least 1,200 people were killed and around 240 hostages were taken in the brutal attack on October 7.

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He acknowledged on Thursday that there is a “gap” between Israel’s intention to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip and what has emerged over the past week as fighting has resumed.

In previous visits, Blinken has pushed for a more targeted campaign against Hamas in the south of the Gaza Strip than has already taken place in the north, where large parts of Gaza City and elsewhere have been reduced to rubble.

Griffiths, for his part, called the campaign in Khan Yunis in the south a “re-offensive in northern Gaza”.

Israel has pushed back against the criticism, insisting on Friday that it had taken “measures to keep civilians safe that are unprecedented in the history of war,” according to Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Eilon Levy. “We believe we are setting the highest standards for reducing civilian casualties in counter-terrorism operations in urban areas.”

On Thursday, the United Nations reported that just 69 truckloads of humanitarian supplies and about 13,000 gallons of fuel had entered Gaza – just a fraction of daily needs. UN officials are hopeful that the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing, which will facilitate the movement of larger cargoes, will speed up deliveries.

The head of the civilian department of the Israeli agency that oversees the Palestinian territories, Col. Elad Goran said on Thursday that the crossing would be opened “in the next few days” to inspect the incoming aid, while stressing the amount of aid arriving. And Israel’s ability to investigate it is minimal.

“Due to the limitations of international aid agencies in Gaza, fewer trucks are going through each day,” Levy stressed. “There are no limitations on Israel’s part in providing food, water, medicine and shelter to the people of Gaza, rather we have surplus inspection capacity,” he said.

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However, Griffith stressed that continued fighting, the inability of staff to move around Gaza and the blocking of trucks were obstacles to aid distribution.

Ahmed al-Ramli, a father of seven who fled from Gaza City in the north to the central region, said finding food is a constant struggle. “We are on a mission to find food and water every day; it has become a daily routine,” he told The Post by phone from Deir al-Bala.

“What we see in the market today will not be available tomorrow, we cannot store a lot of food, there is no electricity,” he said, citing the UN. Distribution of flour by agencies is rarely sufficient. The region is cut off from the north and south by fighting and access for aid agencies is difficult. He said they had one meal a day.

At Nusirat camp in Khan Yunis, Ayman Jameel described life as tough, with food prices soaring and people burning whatever they could cook because of a lack of cooking gas, apart from constant fighting.

“We have not received any help from anyone. Earlier, people used to sell some food items they received as aid, but today no one is selling anything,” he said.

As heavy fighting continues in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continue to attack the West Bank. On Friday morning, the Ramallah-based Ministry of Health reported that six Palestinians were killed in an attack on the Farah camp.

Residents said the raid took place around 7am and snipers were on the roof as alarms went off in the camp. Among those killed were militants affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The operation lasted less than two hours before the troops withdrew.

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The IDF, which has not commented on the raid, says it is carrying out operations to root out militants in the West Bank. Since October 7, 256 Palestinians, including 67 children, have been killed in the West Bank, not including the latest operation, the UN said.

Fahim reports from Beirut, Schem from London.

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