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Middle East

Israeli tanks push deeper into Rafah as Palestinians face imminent starvation

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has intensified as Israeli tanks advance into Rafah, displacing over a million Palestinians.
  • The UN warns that more than a million people could face death and starvation by mid-July without immediate intervention.
  • The international community must act swiftly to provide humanitarian aid and work towards a lasting peace in the region.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented levels as Israeli tanks advance deeper into Rafah, a city in the western part of the Gaza Strip. This military action has forced over a million Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking refuge in areas with limited access to food, water, and shelter. The United Nations has issued a stark warning, predicting that more than a million people could face death and starvation by mid-July if immediate action is not taken.

The situation in Rafah has been described as one of the most devastating bombardments the region has experienced. Residents report intense military action, including heavy helicopter, drone, and artillery fire. "The intensity of the fire from warplanes, Apaches, and quadcopters, along with Israeli artillery and military battleships, all targeted the area west of Rafah," a local resident told Agence France Presse.

The UN's dire warning comes amid a broader humanitarian crisis in Gaza, exacerbated by an ongoing blockade that has severely restricted access to essential supplies. The blockade has led to widespread food insecurity, with many residents struggling to find enough to eat. The UN has called for urgent humanitarian action to prevent a catastrophe. "Famine in the 21st century is a preventable scourge. G7 leaders can and must wield their influence to help stop it," said UN Humanitarian Relief Chief Martin Griffiths.

The conflict has also had a devastating impact on children in Gaza. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 8,000 children under five years old are suffering from acute malnutrition. The situation is so dire that eight-year-old Palestinian girl Hanan Al-Zaanin recently died from malnutrition. Gaza's government reports that 15,694 children have been killed, and 17,000 are now orphans due to the ongoing conflict.

The international community has been slow to respond to the crisis. Despite a ceasefire proposal put forward by US President Joe Biden and endorsed by the UN Security Council, there has been little progress in implementing a permanent end to the conflict. Hamas has proposed amendments to the ceasefire plan, some of which the US considers negotiable, while others are deemed unacceptable. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated, "To this day, they stand behind the proposal that was put on the table in late May that President Biden described in his 31 May speech."

The Biden administration has faced criticism for not acting on its threat to halt the supply of US weapons to Israel if it proceeded with the assault on Rafah without a comprehensive humanitarian plan. Despite this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet pressed ahead with the attack, leading to the current humanitarian crisis.

The situation in Gaza is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of conflict on civilian populations. The international community must act swiftly to provide humanitarian aid and work towards a lasting peace in the region. As Martin Griffiths emphasized, "Delaying action until an official famine declaration would be a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of people and a moral outrage."

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