70% Of Gaza Will be Without Access To Water, Warns UN

Gaza Water

At least 70% of Gaza will be without access to drinking water by the end of Wednesday, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has warned. The agency blamed Israel’s fuel blockade for the crisis, which has resulted in the collapse of water infrastructure in the enclave.

The 23,000 liters of fuel Israel has allowed to the UNRWA on Wednesday can only be used “to transport the little aid coming via Egypt,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement. The agency needs around 160,000 liters a day for “basic humanitarian operations,” such as maintaining the water facilities, he added.

“Key services, including water desalination plants, sewage treatments, and hospitals have ceased to operate,” Lazzarini said.

It is appalling that fuel continues to be used as a weapon of war.

Supplying just the trucks will lead to more loss of life, Lazzarini said, calling on Israel to “immediately authorize the delivery of the needed amount of fuel as is required under international humanitarian law.”

Israel imposed a total blockade on Gaza after the October 7 incursion by Hamas, which killed an estimated 1,200 people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy the Palestinian group, launching air and artillery strikes against the enclave and sending ground troops earlier this month.

Lazzarini has also appealed for a ceasefire, noting that over 60 UNRWA installations in the enclave have been hit – most of them in the south of Gaza, which Israel said would be “safe” for civilians.

The government in West Jerusalem has adamantly rejected any ceasefire, or fuel deliveries to Gaza. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir declared “Diesel = weapon” on Wednesday, while Transportation Minister Miri Regev wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “fuel for UNRWA is fuel for Hamas.”

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian aid and protection to Palestinian refugees “pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.” It operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

U.S. Secretly Boosting Weapons Supplies To Israel, Says Bloomberg

The U.S. Department of Defense has allegedly ramped up weapons deliveries to Israel without making any public announcements of the move, Bloomberg has reported. The media outlet claimed that deliveries of artillery shells, which supposedly feature prominently on Israel’s wish list, continue despite protests by dozens of relief organizations.  

The U.S. has for decades been Israel’s closest ally and a major weapons supplier. Following Hamas’ surprise attack on the country on October 7, Washington quickly came to Israel’s rescue, providing it with Iron Dome air defense missiles and smart bombs.  

Citing an internal Defense Department list dated late October, Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that the Pentagon had been dipping into its stocks at home and in Europe to furnish Israel with 36,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition and approximately 2,000 Hellfire Laser Guided missiles for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The list also included 57,000 155mm High Explosive artillery shells, as well as mortars, rifles, and night vision devices, among other items. Israel reportedly also requested 200 armor-piercing Switchblade 600 strike drones, which the U.S. military does not have in its inventory. 

When asked for comment, the Defense Department said in a statement that it was “leveraging several avenues — from internal stocks to U.S. industry channels – to ensure Israel has the means to defend itself.” Officials added that “this security assistance continues to arrive on a near-daily basis.”  

The reported deliveries have apparently continued despite the Biden administration publicly calling on Israel to exercise restraint and to avoid civilian casualties during its ongoing operation against Hamas in Gaza.

On Monday, thirty relief groups sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, urging him to halt the deliveries of 155mm shells in particular. They argued that, since Gaza is “one of the world’s most densely populated places, 155mm artillery shells are inherently indiscriminate.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill proposed by Speaker Mike Johnson over the weekend to avoid a looming government shutdown this Friday.  

Aid for Ukraine and Israel is conspicuously absent from the stopgap legislation, which aims to secure funding for U.S. government agencies through mid-January and early February. 

The Biden administration originally asked Congress last month to approve a massive $106 billion assistance package for Ukraine and Israel. However, Republicans opposed the plan, leading to a political deadlock.  

Investigate Israel For War Crimes, Says Human Rights Watch

Israel’s attacks on hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel in Gaza should be “investigated as war crimes,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday, urging the government in West Jerusalem to end such strikes immediately.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacks are “apparently unlawful” and are “further destroying” the healthcare system in Gaza, according to HRW. Even though Israel accused Hamas of “cynical use of hospitals,” earlier this month, “no evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law,” the group added.

“The strikes on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and put many patients at grave risk because they are unable to receive proper medical care,” said Dr. A. Kayum Ahmed, HRW’s special adviser on the right to health, noting that the Gaza healthcare infrastructure was “already hard hit by an unlawful blockade.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 521 people – including 16 medical workers – have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care” in Gaza as of November 12. The UN has established that two-thirds of primary care facilities and half of all hospitals in the enclaves were “not functioning” as of November 10, while dealing with “unprecedented numbers of severely injured patients.”

The total Palestinian death toll in the enclave has risen to 11,000 since October 7, when Israel declared war on Hamas in the aftermath of the Palestinian group’s lethal incursion into nearby Israeli settlements that killed an estimated 1,200 people.

Israel has cut off Gaza’s supply of water and electricity. Local hospitals are running out of medicine and basic equipment, with HRW hearing from doctors that they are using vinegar as an antiseptic.

“The Israeli government should immediately end unlawful attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and other civilian objects, as well as its total blockade of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to the war crime of collective punishment,” HRW said, while calling on Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups “to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks and not use civilians as ‘human shields’.”

The group urged an investigation into the IDF attacks on Gaza healthcare infrastructure, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) – which has jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territories – to get involved as well. 

Meanwhile, the U.S., UK, Canada, Germany and other countries should “suspend military assistance and arms sales” to Israel “as long as its forces continue to commit widespread, serious abuses amounting to war crimes against Palestinian civilians with impunity,” the HRW said.


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