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People receive food relief in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, May 19, 2024. Alamy Stock Photo

UN suspends all food deliveries to Rafah as IDF lays siege to last two hospitals in north Gaza

A doctor was one of eight people killed in an Israeli raid in the West Bank today.

THE UN HAS suspended all deliveries of food to the southern Gazan city of Rafah due to the ongoing Israeli military operation there and a lack of supplies and security, according to the UN agency for Palestine UNRWA. 

UNRWA’s distribution centre and the World Food Program’s warehouse are now inaccessible due to Israel’s ongoing military operations in eastern Rafah, the agency said. 

The IDF moved on the Rafah border crossing earlier this month and no supplies have passed through it since while the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing is only partially operational because it is in a combat zone. 

Israel has repeatedly denied that it has hindered the entry of aid to the Gaza Strip, including last week at the International Court of Justice where it stands accused of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The bombardment and evacuation orders from the Israeli military (IDF) have displaced more than 800,000 people from the besieged city in the last two weeks. 

Many have had to flee to already destroyed parts of the territory, or to the so-called “safe zone” of Al Mawasi, a sandy patch of land with no infrastructure.  

UN agencies and humanitarians organisations have repeatedly stressed that nowhere in Gaza is safe.

Israel’s siege, bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip following the Hamas attack on Israel in October has killed at least 35,647 people, most of them civilians, according to the Palestinian territory’s health ministry.

makeshift-shelters-at-a-new-camp-for-internally-displaced-palestinians-makeshift-shelters-at-a-new-camp-for-internally-displaced-palestinians-after-the-israeli-army-asked-them-to-evacuate-the-city-of Tents and makeshift shelters in Rafah city. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Hospitals under siege

Meanwhile, in the north of Gaza, where famine has already set in in parts, the area’s last two functioning hospitals – Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan – are barely operational, doctors and the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

Hospital officials said Israeli forces had fired on the facilities and that snipers had been deployed near one of them.

“Today marks the third day of the siege on Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza,” the hospital’s acting director Dr Mohammad Saleh told the AFP news agency.

He reported that Israeli forces had been “firing at the hospital buildings” and that “snipers” have taken up position in nearby houses.

Dr Saleh said the southern wall of the hospital has been destroyed and “all medical staff and patients” are inside the hospital wards.

Moving around the hospital was “extremely difficult”, he said.

But staff still had to transfer water “from the second building to the first one because the occupation forces hit the first building with a shell on the fifth floor yesterday, destroying the water tanks”.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva that “148 hospital staff, 22 patients and their companions are trapped inside” the hospital.

Dounia Dekhili, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Gaza, said “nothing is coming in or out” of the hospital because of fears of sniper fire.

“Our operating theatre supervisor has been hiding for a few days, he can hear gunshots,” Dekhili told AFP after speaking to the man inside Al-Awda.

Dr Saleh did not report any casualties, but said the episode was reminiscent of the last Israeli military operation in the area of the northern Gaza hospital, which is located next to the Jabalia refugee camp.

In December, Israeli forces besieged Al-Awda for days, killing two staff and detaining others, MSF reported at the time.

Despite AFP requests, the Israeli military has yet to comment on the operation in Al-Awda.


Also today, patients and staff have been evacuating another north Gaza hospital, Kamal Adwan, its director Dr Hossam Abu Safia told AFP.

“Currently, the hospital is being evacuated of the wounded, patients, and medical staff,” he said, adding that “there are several patients that the medical teams have not been able to evacuate”.

He said “the reception and emergency entrance gate of Kamal Adwan Hospital was targeted by an artillery shell from the Israeli army”, as soldiers advanced towards the complex.

Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative in the Palestinian Territories, said from Jerusalem that the hospital’s intensive care unit reception area had been hit.

“At the moment, 20 health staff and 13 patients remain,” Peeperkorn said, adding that “these are … functional hospitals we cannot afford to lose”, referring to both Kamal Adwan and Al-Awda.

Israeli troops have previously raided other medical facilities in Gaza, including Al-Shifa in Gaza City, the territory’s largest hospital, now reduced to rubble after a March operation, the WHO said.

Israel’s military accuses Hamas of using hospitals as command centres to plan and launch attacks against its forces, a charge the militant group and hospital staff deny.

West Bank killings

The IDF killed at least eight people in Jenin in the West Bank today, according to MSF.

The dead included a Ministry of Health surgeon from Khalil Suleiman Hospital, Dr Osayd Jabarin, who was shot on his way to work, the medical NGO said.

“The raids are still underway and have also left 20 people injured,” an MSF spokesperson said.

“Despite reports online, MSF did not and has never received prior notification about raids, nor their duration.”

MSF said its teams have witnessed repeated instances where access to healthcare has been hindered during raids by the IDF, “as well as the targeting of ambulances and medical staff and acts of violence and killing” in Khalil Suleiman hospital.

More generally, MSF has reported attacks on hospitals, the blocking of ambulances and the shelling of its own accommodation facilities by the IDF throughout the conflict.

With reporting from AFP

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