UN officials warned Tuesday generators powering hospitals in Gaza are set to run out of fuel and the enclave has only a few days worth of food supply remaining, as efforts to deliver aid to civilians in the Palestinian territory remain stuck amid Israeli fears that it could be used by militant group Hamas.
In its daily update, the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency said fuel reserves at all hospitals across Gaza “are expected to last for an additional 24 hours only” and shutdown of generators powering these hospitals would “place the lives of thousands of patients at serious risk.”
The agency also said the Israeli Air Force was carrying out bombings in southern areas of Gaza—including Khan Younis—despite previously asking civilians to move to the south.
Authorities in Gaza also accused Israel of bombing Khan Younis and Rafah in the south and killing at least 72 people.
The Israeli Defense Force has not commented on the reported bombings in southern Gaza, but Israel has previously said its airstrikes intend to target Hamas sites.
The UN’s World Food Program also warned that shops across Gaza only have around four to five days’ worth of essential food supplies remaining.
On Monday, Hamas released a video of a 21-year-old French-Israeli woman, Mia Schem, who is being held hostage in Gaza. In the video, the first footage of any of the hostages released by Hamas, Schem says she was injured and wants to return to her family. Since the release of the video, Schem’s mother has appealed to world leaders to seek her daughter’s release. Later on Monday, key Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated that the group will use the hostages to secure the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails. The video has come under scathing criticism from both Israeli officials and French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron’s office said: “It is an ignominy to take innocent people hostage and put them on show in this odious way,” and demanded Schem’s immediate and unconditional release.
“There’s no question in my mind that that woman gave that video testimony under duress, probably forced to do it…It’s a propaganda video,” White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said on NBC’s Today show Tuesday “It’s despicable, deplorable that they would take these hostages and then advertise how well they’re treating them when they’re the ones who hurt them in the first place.”
Hamas fighters killed over 1,300 people in Israel more than a week ago and took almost 200 hostages. Since then, parts of Gaza have faced an Israeli bombardment that has led to over 2,500 deaths in the territory, as Israel readies its military for a likely ground operation in the enclave. Along with its aerial campaign, Israel has enacted a total blockade of the Gaza Strip. UN officials and other entities have urged Israel to allow the flow of essential aid across Gaza’s border with Egypt, including food, water, medicines and fuel, but the Israeli government has reportedly expressed concern that Hamas may seize or destroy such aid. Haaretz reported Monday that Israel wants to continue blocking shipment of fuel to the territory, fearing that Hamas may use it to operate generators in its tunnel complexes. U.S. officials told the New York Times on Tuesday the State Department is working with Israel to establish safe zones for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.
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