The Head of the UN on the ‘Horrific’ Gaza Situation: ‘Nowhere Is Safe’

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Israel’s military hit the family home of the exiled leader of Hamas on the outskirts of Gaza City with an airstrike on Saturday and pressed ahead with attacks across the besieged enclave, where a humanitarian crisis is rapidly worsening. With food, water, and the fuel needed for generators that power hospitals and other facilities running out, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate ceasefire to allow aid in. “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is horrific,” Guterres said late Friday in an unusually blunt statement, per the AP. “An entire population is traumatized, nowhere is safe.” About 1.5 million people in Gaza, or 70% of the population, have fled their homes, according to the UN. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in the region since Friday trying to find ways to ease the plight of the civilians caught in the fighting.

Blinken’s mission is complicated by Israel’s insistence there can be no temporary ceasefire until all hostages held by Hamas are released. Guterres said he hadn’t forgotten the slaughter of civilians at the hands of Hamas militants when they launched their attack on Israel almost a month ago, but he said civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. He also said civilians must not be used as human shields, calling upon Hamas to release all of the roughly 240 hostages it has. Meanwhile, the family home of exiled Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in the Shati refugee camp on the northern edge of Gaza City, was hit Saturday morning by an airstrike, according to the Hamas-run media office in Gaza. It had no immediate details on damage or casualties. A senior Hamas official said the house was being used by Haniyeh’s two sons.

The home is located in a narrow alley in the refugee camp, which has become a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City over the generations. Haniyeh, a former aide to Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004, has been in exile since 2019. Overnight strikes also hit the western outskirts of the city and near Al-Quds Hospital. Adly Abu Taha, a Gaza City resident who has sheltered on the hospital grounds for the past three weeks, said strikes have repeatedly hit close to the hospital in recent days. “The bombardment gets closer day by day,” he said. “We don’t know where to go.” Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain in the city and across northern Gaza. Israel says Hamas has extensive military infrastructure in the city, including a network of underground tunnels, bunkers, and command centers.

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It says its strikes target Hamas, and that the militants endanger civilians by operating among them. More than 9,200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza so far, including more than 3,600 Palestinian children, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry said, without providing a breakdown between civilians and fighters. More than 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack. Rocket fire by Gaza militants into Israel persists, disrupting life for millions of people and forcing an estimated 250,000 to evacuate. Most rockets are intercepted. Twenty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the ground operation. The overall toll is likely to rise dramatically as the assault on the densely built-up Gaza City continues. Much more here.

(Read more Israel-Hamas war stories.)

Read More: The Head of the UN on the ‘Horrific’ Gaza Situation: ‘Nowhere Is Safe’

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