Amid reports of continued Israeli airstrikes overnight in southern and central Gaza and more rocket fire into Israel from the enclave, UN teams said on Thursday they have been unable to deliver urgently needed aid to civilians beyond central areas and further north for the past three days.

A delivery of 4,000 blankets to two hospitals in southern Gaza last December (file).
A delivery of 4,000 blankets to two hospitals in southern Gaza last December (file). © UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

In its latest alert on the deteriorating situation for 1.9 million displaced people in the Strip, UN aid coordination office OCHA blamed “delays and denials” along with active conflict for the lack of distribution beyond Wadi Gaza.

“This includes medicines that would have provided vital support to more than 100,000 people for 30 days, as well as eight trucks of food for people who currently face catastrophic and life-threatening food insecurity,” OCHA said in a situation update published late on Wednesday.

Wadi Gaza has been “severed” from the south for more than a month, the UN aid office continued, before reiterating calls for safe, sustained and unhindered access to northern areas of the enclave.

“The security situation, access, transport and deconfliction remain extremely challenging, especially for hospitals in the northern governorates,” the OCHA report explained, indicating that many of the same physical and administrative obstacles that have hindered previous aid convoys convoys remain in place.

In a related development, UN human rights chief Volker Türk spoke out on Thursday at reported negotiations between Israeli government officials and third countries to take in Gazans.

“Very disturbed by high-level Israeli officials' statements on plans to transfer civilians from #Gaza to third countries,” the UN High Commissioner for Human RIghts said in a post on X. “85 percent of people in Gaza are already internally displaced. They have the right to return to their homes. Int'l law prohibits forcible transfer of protected persons within or deportation from occupied territory.”

Hospital hit again, ‘multiple times’

In the south of Gaza, Al-Amal hospital and surrounding areas which were shelled on Tuesday leaving five dead, were once again hit “multiple times” on Wednesday, according to OCHA.

Latest casualty numbers have not been confirmed from new blasts at and around the Palestine Red Crescent Society-run facility, the UN office noted.

Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that 13 trucks “carrying crucial medical supplies for surgeries and anaesthesia” had arrived in Gaza since Monday via the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

The aid was due to be delivered to Nasser Medical Complex and three other hospitals in southern Gaza - Al Aqsa, Al Awda and European Gaza hospital – enough for around 142,000 patients.

Highlighting the desperate medical situation throughout Gaza, WHO reported that only 13 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are still partially functional; nine in the south and four in the north.

According to OCHA, a total of 105 trucks laden with food, medicine and other supplies entered the Gaza Strip via Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings on Wednesday.

A family cooks in the rubble of their home in the Gaza Strip. © WFP/Ali Jadallah
A family cooks in the rubble of their home in the Gaza Strip. © WFP/Ali Jadallah

Markets lack essentials

Uprooted families continue to need basic supplies, the UN aid update said, reporting “a lack of essential items including children’s clothing, diapers, sanitary pads in the local markets”.

Across Gaza, nearly 1.4 million people are sheltering in 155 facilities run by the UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, while Rafah governorate in the far south remains the main refuge for Gaza’s displaced with around one million people crammed in.

In its latest situation update released late on Thursday, UNRWA reported that according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza on 3 January, at least 22,313 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October.

About 70 per cent of those killed are reported to be women and children. Another 57,296 Palestinians have been reportedly injured.

And elsewhere in the occupied territories according to OCHA, between 7 October and 3 January, 313 Palestinians, including 80 children, have been killed in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces have injured 3,949 Palestinians, including 593 children; 52 percent in the context of search and arrest and other operations.

Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN began recording casualties in 2005.

Vaccine boost

In a bid to stem galloping disease transmission caused by damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, UNRWA announced on Wednesday that it will work with UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, WHO, and other partners to deliver over 960,000 doses of vaccines into the Gaza Strip.

Recipients will receive protection against diseases including measles, pneumonia and polio, complementing an earlier immunisation campaign by humanitarian partners in late December, involving the delivery of more than 600,000 doses of vaccines to Gaza.

Famine risk ‘increases daily’

To help combat the risk of famine that “increases daily” among Gaza’s 2.2 million-strong population who are “in urgent need of food assistance each day”, the UN World Food Progamme (WFP) said that it remained imperative to halt the deterioration of health, nutrition and hunger by restoring basic public services.