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UN Urges Immediate Protection for Civilians Amid Escalation in Gaza

UN Urges Immediate Protection for Civilians Amid Escalation in Gaza

As Israel's military gears up for a ground incursion into Gaza, the UN Palestine refugee agency, UNRWA, issued a pressing appeal on Saturday, urging Israel to safeguard all civilians seeking refuge in the enclave.

The plea came as the Israeli-imposed deadline for approximately 1.1 million civilians to vacate the northern part of Gaza, ahead of what is anticipated to be a major Israeli ground operation, lapsed.

"This is unprecedented. UNRWA shelters in Gaza and northern Gaza are no longer safe," the statement emphasized. UNRWA reminded that under the laws of armed conflict, civilians, along with hospitals, schools, clinics, and UN facilities, must not be targeted.

The agency is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to persuade the warring parties to uphold their responsibilities under international law to shield civilians, including those seeking refuge in UNRWA shelters. UNRWA underscored that many vulnerable individuals, such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, have no means to flee south and must be safeguarded at all times.

During Israel's aerial offensive on Gaza, over 2,200 Palestinians lost their lives, while Israel suffered the loss of 1,300 people in Hamas attacks.

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed that it would be "impossible" for Gaza's civilians to comply with the evacuation order without severe humanitarian consequences. He called on the global community to unite in support of the fundamental principle of safeguarding civilians and finding a lasting solution to the ongoing cycle of death and destruction.

A school operated by UNRWA in Gaza, which was providing shelter to more than 225 displaced individuals, including numerous families, was directly hit, sustaining substantial damage, but no casualties were reported.

On a positive note, a plane carrying life-saving healthcare supplies from the World Health Organization's logistics hub in Dubai arrived in Egypt on Saturday, poised to aid civilians in Gaza once access across the border into the enclave is established.

The shipment comprises trauma medicines, essential healthcare items, and equipment sufficient to treat approximately 1,200 individuals who have sustained injuries during the bombing raids, along with around 1,500 chronically ill patients. Basic health supplies for an additional 300,000 individuals, including pregnant women, are also included.

With Gaza's hospitals either inoperable or overwhelmed, these supplies are expected to play a crucial role in saving lives, wherever the wounded can find shelter, according to WHO.


UN Urges Immediate Protection for Civilians Amid Escalation in Gaza

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