(CTN News) – UN agencies reported on Friday that relief supplies were able to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, thanks to a four-day pause in Israeli bombardments.
The agencies stressed the importance of accessing all parts of the devastated Palestinian enclave, where the death toll was nearing 15,000 and many displaced individuals were forced to sleep on the streets.
Jens Laerke, the spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Office (OCHA), expressed hope in Geneva that the agreement between Israel and Hamas, announced earlier in the week, would be honored. The goal was to use this pause to reach those in need and eventually achieve a long-term humanitarian ceasefire.
The ceasefire, which lasted for 96 hours, was arranged by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States. The agreement also requires the release of Israeli hostages who were taken by Hamas militants on October 7th, as well as Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
According to Laerke, a spokesperson for OCHA, the hope is that this agreement will bring some relief to the people of Gaza and Israel, as well as to the hostages and detainees and their families.
However, Laerke also stressed the current volatile and intense situation, stating that the relief process is lengthy and much of it is beyond their control, particularly in terms of verifying the shipments.
He stressed the importance of providing aid to northern Gaza, which has been isolated from the rest of the enclave, and aid due to Israeli military operations.
The spokesperson for the WHO highlighted the dire situation faced by patients and healthcare workers in hospitals in north Gaza. Efforts are being made to evacuate individuals from hospitals, including the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, with the help of UN agencies and the PRCS.
Bombings and violent clashes escalated before the ceasefire, with Israeli airstrikes intensifying and ground battles with Palestinian armed groups in the north. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 14,800, with thousands trapped under the wreckage of their homes.
Jens Laerke from OCHA emphasized the importance of bringing more fuel into Gaza for clearing rubble and rescuing individuals.
This is crucial due to the extensive damage to infrastructure and buildings. On Thursday, Israel allowed a small amount of fuel to enter Gaza from Egypt, but it falls short of the 200,000 litres per day required. The UN Office reported that UNRWA is distributing the fuel under UN custody.
With over 1.7 million internally displaced people in Gaza, approximately one million are in overcrowded UNRWA shelters, leaving many men and older boys to sleep in the open or nearby streets.
In a statement on Thursday, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini emphasized that Gazans deserve to sleep without worrying about whether they will spend the night. “That’s the minimum anyone should get,” he noted.