WHO Chief Asks Israel to Ease Curbs on Gaza Medical Aid

 Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2024. (Reuters)
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WHO Chief Asks Israel to Ease Curbs on Gaza Medical Aid

 Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2024. (Reuters)

The head of the World Health Organization called on Tuesday for Israel to lift restrictions on aid into Gaza saying that the primary pipeline for emergency medical aid into the enclave from Egypt had been cut off.

"At a time when the people of Gaza are facing starvation, we urge Israel to lift the blockade and let aid through. Without more aid flowing into Gaza, we cannot sustain our lifesaving support of hospitals," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva.

Israel seized and closed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on May 7, disrupting a vital route for people and aid into and out of enclave.

Tedros said the move had impacted six hospitals and nine primary health centers and caused 70 shelters to lose their medical facilities.

"Daily consultations have fallen by close to 40% and immunization by 50%," he said. "Approximately 700 seriously ill patients who would have otherwise been evacuated for medical care elsewhere are stuck in a war zone."

Gaza's healthcare system has essentially collapsed since Israel began its military offensive there after the Oct. 7 cross-border attacks by Palestinian Hamas fighters on Israelis.

Tedros said that Gaza's Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza remained under siege since Sunday, with 148 hospital staff and 22 patients and the people accompanying in them trapped inside. He said that fighting near Kamal Adwan Hospital, also in northern Gaza, had jeopardized its ability to care for patients.

"These are the only two functional hospitals remaining in northern Gaza," Tedros said. "Ensuring their ability to deliver health services is imperative."



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.