Relief work can only last two days without urgent assistance, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warns as the conflict between Israel and Hamas reaches its 21st day. Philippe Lazzarini, head of the agency, dubbed the situation in Gaza “hell on Earth”, urging the world not to turn a blind eye to the human tragedy.
In a piece penned for The Guardian, Lazzarini lamented the crumbling aid operation, reporting that “civil disquiet is rising” and even the agency’s staff are becoming targets of public anger. The UNRWA requires 160,000 litres of fuel daily to keep its hospitals, bakeries, and operations running.
In a noteworthy diplomatic development, the United States and Qatar have agreed to re-evaluate Qatar’s relationship with Hamas following the resolution of an international hostage crisis in Gaza. The move aims to balance the Biden administration’s immediate goal of securing hostages while also pursuing its long-term strategy of isolating Hamas.
Experts have hinted that a shift in Qatar-Hamas relations could compel Hamas leaders to seek refuge in countries like Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or Algeria, possibly affecting Western negotiation capacities in the region.
US imposes further sanctions on Hamas
In a separate but related move, the United States has tightened sanctions on Hamas, specifically targeting its financial and operational links with Iran. The new sanctions list includes key individuals and entities, amongst them a Turkish company, Trend GYO, and its shareholders. The Treasury Department alleges that they have been aiding Hamas in evading international sanctions.
US President Joe Biden’s recent comments casting doubt on the number of Palestinian casualties were met with a stern rebuttal from Hamas. The group released a 212-page list containing the names and identification numbers of the 7,288 Palestinians killed. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Human Rights Watch have also criticised Biden’s remarks.
In the backdrop of escalating humanitarian needs, military actions are not ceasing. Israeli army troops have carried out a second ground raid into Gaza, backed by fighter jets and drones. At the same time, the US military confirmed airstrikes in eastern Syria, targeting locations harbouring Iranian forces.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that several European countries, including Cyprus and Greece, are in talks to form a ‘humanitarian coalition’ focused on Gaza. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Office expressed concerns about possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas.
A recent poll by Israel’s Maariv newspaper showed a declining public support for an immediate ground invasion of Gaza. Nearly half of the surveyed Israelis opposed an “immediate” military ground invasion, pointing to a complex public sentiment amid escalating tensions.