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UN: Gaza “on the verge of catastrophe”

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that "unless something changes, coming days will see more civilians on the brink of death from continuing bombardment. Humanity must come first."
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The United Nations (UN) has warned of an impending “catastrophe” in Gaza.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that “unless something changes, coming days will see more civilians on the brink of death from continuing bombardment. Humanity must come first.”

The death toll in Gaza has now exceeded 5,000 amid intensifying Israeli airstrikes. Here is the latest.

Recap

On 7 October, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel killing over 1,400 people, including children. Australia considers Hamas a terrorist organisation. More than 200 hostages were captured and taken to Gaza. Hamas has released four.

Israel responded by declaring war and seeking to eliminate Hamas. It launched a “siege” of Gaza until Hamas returns all hostages. It has also shut off access to basic necessities including food and electricity.

Gaza has a population of over two million. According to the UN, 5,087 people have now been killed in Gaza, 62% of them women and children. 15,273 people are injured.

Latest in Gaza

The UN says 1.4 million Gazans are internally displaced, with nearly half of those people in its facilities. A spokesperson said shelters and hospitals are both operating well above capacity.

A recent joint statement from a group of UN organisations, including UNICEF and the WHO, said: “Time is running out [in Gaza] before mortality rates could skyrocket due to disease outbreaks and lack of health-care capacity.”

In recent days, 54 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered Gaza from Egypt, but the UN has called for significantly more aid including fuel to power hospital generators and water pumps.

Israel has expressed concern Hamas could use fuel for military purposes. An official in charge of UN relief has said: “Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance. No fuel will further strangle the children, women and people of Gaza.”

“Far too many civilian lives, many of them children, have already been lost – on both sides – as a consequence of these hostilities… The first step must be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, saving the lives of civilians through the delivery of prompt and effective humanitarian aid, throughout Gaza.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk

Australian response

The Australian Government has recognised Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

This morning in Washington, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “We pick a side against Hamas… because the interests of Hamas are against the interests of both the Israeli population [and] against the interest of Palestinians.”

The Government has urged all parties to abide by the rules of war, called for the immediate release of hostages and “sustained and unimpeded” humanitarian access.

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