VOLUNTEERS prepare food for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday.—AFP
VOLUNTEERS prepare food for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday.—AFP

RAFAH: An Israeli strike killed 31 more Palestinians and wounded 20 others in a home in the central Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza on Sunday, the Palestinian civil defence agency said, as US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited Israel for talks on the conflict.

Witness Yasser Abu Oula said an entire residential complex “was destroyed” and “there are still bodies under the rubble”. Israel has bombed northern and central areas of the coastal territory, sparking US warnings that it could become mired in a lengthy counterinsurgency campaign.

Also, Israeli troops have moved in on the Gaza Strip’s far-southern city of Rafah, where the US says 800,000 civilians have been recently displaced.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has vowed to keep fighting Hamas has faced intense opposition and calls to announce a plan for Gaza’s post-war governance — from top ally Washington and from mass street protests, and now also from members of his war cabinet. Centrist politician Benny Gantz threatened him to quit the hard-right coalition unless Netan­yahu approves a post-war “action plan” by June 8.

UN aid chief warns of ‘apocalyptic’ consequences of Gaza shortages

Since the escalation in Israeli strikes on Gaza, at least 35,456 Pales­tinians have been killed in Gaza.

‘Nothing but suffering’

Israel has imposed a siege on the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, depriving its 2.4 million people of normal access to food, water, medicines and fuel, the suffering eased only by sporadic aid shipments.

“We are living through a humanitarian catastrophe in every sense of the word,” said Rafah resident Rinad Joudeh, 41, decrying “destruction, fear and terror” nearly two weeks into the Israeli incursion into the city.

The head of the UN agency helping Palesti­nians said that “despite all the calls by the international community not to launch an offensive in Rafah, in reality an offensive started on May 6”.

Since then, “we have again about half of the population of Gaza being on the road forced to flee” for safety once more, though “we keep saying there is absolutely nowhere to go,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told reporters in Amman.

UN aid chief warning

Warning of famine in the besieged territory, UN’s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on Sunday the stranglehold on aid reaching Gaza threatens an “apocalyptic” outcome.

“If fuel runs out, aid doesn’t get to the people where they need it, that famine, which we have talked about for so long, and which is looming, will not be looming anymore. It will be present,” said Griffiths.

“And I think our worry, as citizens of the international community, is that the consequence is going to be really, really hard. Hard, difficult, and apocalyptic,” the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator said.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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