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UN Humanitarian Chief Warns Gaza Is Now “Uninhabitable” Amid Israel Assault

“Hope has never been more elusive,” the UN leader said.

A man walks among the rubble of destroyed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on January 8, 2024.

Israel’s siege of Gaza has rendered the region “uninhabitable” for its 2.2 million residents, the UN’s humanitarian chief has warned, citing Israel’s bombing of the majority of residences, its blockade on basic supplies like food and water, and its near-total destruction of Gaza’s health system.

The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths warned of the horrific conditions Israel is imposing in Gaza on Friday, issuing a plea for world leaders to demand an end to the assault.

“Gaza has simply become uninhabitable,” Griffiths said in a statement. “Its people are witnessing daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on.”

Though he, like other UN agencies and officials in recent statements on Gaza, does not specifically name Israel as the cause for the collapsing of Gaza, he cites conditions created by the Israeli military, like Palestinians being bombarded in areas that they were told were “safe” by Israeli officials and Israel’s vicious attacks on and raids of medical facilities.

Currently in Gaza, infectious diseases are spreading rapidly, with little to no clean water in the region, while there are only a few doctors left at the few hospitals that are still open and medication and medical supplies are extremely scarce. Hospitals are only able to respond to the worst and most horrific emergencies, with over 10 children having to have one or both legs amputated on average every day, often without anesthesia.

Even as these operations are happening, Israel is regularly conducting raids on hospitals, with Israeli forces closing in on the last hospital still open in central Gaza, Al-Aqsa Hospital, this week, forcing humanitarian groups to pull out their staff.

So far, Israel’s assault has killed at least 23,000 Palestinians, including more than 9,600 children. This is likely to be an undercount, humanitarian groups have warned, with thousands of people still missing under the rubble. And the death toll will only multiply in coming months as disease and hunger are setting in across the region.

Food is extremely scarce in Gaza due to Israel’s blockade of food and destruction of agricultural land. “Famine is around the corner,” Griffiths said. A recent UN-backed report by global food researchers found that the entire population is currently facing an acute hunger crisis, while the entire population will be facing famine in the next six months if Israel’s starvation campaign continues.

UN World Food Program chief economist Arif Husain said in an interview last week that 80 percent of the famine across the globe is currently in Gaza — and it was implemented entirely by Israeli forces over just a few months.

Other humanitarian groups like B’Tselem have warned that Israel is intentionally starving Gaza’s population.

“Hope has never been more elusive. Gaza has shown us the worst of humanity, as well as moments of great heroism,” Griffiths said. “We continue to demand an immediate end to the war, not just for the people of Gaza and its threatened neighbors, but for the generations to come who will never forget these 90 days of hell and of assaults on the most basic precepts of humanity.”

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