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Middle East

Israeli army announces “pause” in Gaza operations amid humanitarian catastrophe

On Sunday, the Israeli army declared a “local and tactical pause of military activities” in certain Gaza Strip areas to enable increased aid delivery following warnings from international relief groups about a worsening humanitarian crisis

According to the army, military operations will halt daily from 05:00 GMT to 16:00 GMT along specific routes, starting from the Kerem Shalom crossing to Salah al-Din Road and continuing northward.

This decision, effective until further notice, comes after discussions with the United Nations and global organizations to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip.”

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According to the World Health Organization, more than 8,000 children under five have been treated for acute malnutrition in Gaza.

World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau recently stated that “with lawlessness inside the Strip and active conflict, it has become close to impossible to deliver the level of aid that meets the growing demands on the ground.”

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reports that over 50,000 children in the Gaza Strip urgently need medical treatment for acute malnutrition.

In a statement on Saturday, the agency noted, “With continued restrictions to humanitarian access, people in Gaza continue to face desperate levels of hunger. UNRWA teams work tirelessly to reach families with aid, but the situation is catastrophic.”

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder highlighted the severe challenges in not only delivering aid into Gaza but also distributing it across the war-torn coastal enclave.

“More aid workers have been killed in this war than in any war since the advent of the UN,” Elder told Al Jazeera.

On Wednesday, UNICEF attempted to drive a truck full of nutritional and medical supplies for 10,000 children. The mission, Elder said, involved delivering pre-approved aid from Deir el-Balah to Gaza City, a 40km (25 miles) round trip.

“It took 13 hours, and we spent eight of those around checkpoints, arguing over paperwork – ‘was it a truck or a van?'” he recounted.

“The reality is this truck was denied access. Those 10,000 children did not get that aid… Israel, as the occupying power, has the legal responsibility to facilitate that aid.”

According to the OCHA, at least 567,000 Palestinians (about 25% of the population) in Gaza are one step of famine.

 

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