• Leaflets carry warnings to leave north Gaza ‘or be considered terrorists’
• 260 Gazans dead in 24 hours, 8 killed in West Bank
• 29 UN workers slain so far
RAFAH: An aid convoy carrying desperately needed fuel entered Gaza on Sunday, as Israel intensified strikes on the besieged enclave that is suffering a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation.
Israel increased its attacks overnight and claimed it had killed “dozens of terrorists” in and around Gaza City, but the Palestinian health ministry said that more than 260 people had died in 24 hours.
The scale of the bombing has left basic systems unable to function, with the UN reporting dozens of unidentified bodies were buried in a mass grave in Gaza City because cold storage had run out.
At least 1,873 of the around 4,741 Palestinians killed in the past fortnight were children. An additional 15,898 people are among the injured.
But on Saturday, an Israeli military spokesman called on Gaza City residents “to continue moving south for their safety.”
Israel also confirmed on Sunday that 212 of its citizens were being held captive in Gaza.
Tel Aviv has massed tens of thousands of troops around the enclave for an anticipated ground invasion.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in and around Gaza City in the north, unwilling or unable to leave.
The message to Gaza residents was delivered from Saturday in leaflets dropped by air and marked with the Israeli military logo, and in automated phone messages sent to people across the enclave.
“Whoever chooses not to leave north Gaza to the south of Wadi Gaza might be identified as an accomplice in a terrorist organisation,” the leaflets said.
Although Israel has previously warned Palestinians to move south, it had not previously told them they could be identified as “terrorist” sympathisers if they did not.
Meanwhile, scores of people rushed to Deir el-Balah hospital to identify bodies on Sunday after Israel stepped up its air strikes on Gaza.
Authorities said the central Gaza hospital had suffered most from one of the most intense nights of shelling since Israel started its bombardment on October 7.
Strikes in West Bank
Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, bringing the number of deaths to 93 since Oct. 7, the Palestinian health ministry said on Sunday.
A strike hit the Al-Ansar mosque, which the Israeli military claimed was being used to plan attacks on its territory.
The Palestinian health ministry said two men were killed in the Jenin strike.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian was killed during a military raid of Nablus and another was shot dead in Tubas, the health ministry said in a series of statements.
An explosion and the sound of ambulances were heard near the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, shortly after a second aid convoy had entered the crossing from the Egyptian side, witnesses said.
Later, the Israeli military admitted that one of its tanks had fired on the Egyptian post. The Egyptian military said the blast had caused “minor injuries” but did not give details.
“The IDF (Israeli military) expresses sorrow regarding the incident” near the Kerem Shalom area, an army statement said.
“The incident is being investigated and the details are under review,” the statement added.
Sunday’s 17-truck aid delivery through Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt was the second such operation in two days, after 20 lorries arrived on Saturday following negotiations and US pressure.
“The aid that arrived in Gaza is not enough for one day. We call on the international community to pressure the Israeli government to bring in thousands of trucks,” Hamas said in a statement.
The UN estimates that about 100 trucks per day are required to meet the needs of 2.4 million Gazans given the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation.
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned fuel supplies would run out in three days.
“Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance,” Philippe Lazzarini said.
Additionally, the head of the World Food Program (WFP) said on Sunday the humanitarian situation in Gaza was catastrophic, that the 20 aid trucks that have entered so far was a ‘mere drop’ and that aid agencies needed secure, sustainable access to the enclave.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” program, WFP chief Cindy McCain said the agency does its very best to ensure aid gets to the people who need it but that Gaza was a war zone and that “things happen.”
Separately, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees also said on Sunday that 29 of its staff had been killed in Gaza so far.
“We are in shock and mourning. It is now confirmed that 29 of our colleagues in Gaza have been killed since October 7,” UNRWA wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after having released a death toll of 17 staffers on Saturday.
US draft resolution
The United States proposed on Saturday a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that says Israel has a right to defend itself and demands Iran stop exporting arms to “militias and terrorist groups threatening peace and security across the region.”
The draft text does not call for any pause or truce in the fighting. It calls on all states to try and stop the “violence in Gaza from spilling over or expanding to other areas in the region, including by demanding the immediate cessation by Hezbollah and other armed-groups of all attacks.”
The draft text calls for the protection of civilians – including those who are trying to get to safety – notes that states must comply with international law when responding to “terrorist attacks”, and urges the “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip.
It was not immediately clear if or when the US planned to put the draft resolution to a vote. To pass, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, US, France or Britain.
The move comes after Washington vetoed a Brazilian-drafted text on Wednesday that would have called for humanitarian pauses in the bombing campaign to allow aid access to Gaza.
Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2023