UN aid agency chief in Gaza visit says situation ‘hell on earth’

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The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said yesterday at the end of an overnight visit to the Gaza Strip that civilians there were enduring “hell on earth” as Israel’s war against Hamas grinds on.

“Back in #Gaza, endless deepening tragedy. People are everywhere, live in the street, need everything. They plead for safety & for an end to this hell on earth,” UNWRA chief Philippe Lazzarini said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, adding his agency was facing “an impossible situation”.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry charged yesterday that Israeli forces were raiding a hospital in Gaza City, the biggest urban centre, in the north of the coastal territory.

The World Health Organization also said  that a patient had died in an emergency convoy en route to a Gaza City hospital, during repeated and lengthy Israeli checks.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the weekend that the U.N. health agency and its partners had managed to deliver essential trauma and surgical supplies to the Al-Ahli hospital and to transfer 19 critical patients.

But yesterday, he provided more details about the high-risk mission, saying on X, formerly Twitter, that the WHO was “deeply concerned about prolonged checks and detention of health workers that put lives of already fragile patients at risk.”

“Due to the hold-up, one patient died en route, given the grave nature of their wounds and the delay in accessing treatment,” he said.

Tedros did not say in his message who carried out the checks, but a WHO spokesman told AFP they took place at an Israeli army checkpoint.

His comments came as Israel presses on with its bombardment of Gaza after saying its campaign to destroy Hamas has left the Palestinian militant group on “the verge of dissolution.”

Humanitarian leaders fear the besieged territory will soon be overwhelmed by disease and starvation.

The WHO-led mission brought desperately-needed aid to Al-Ahli hospital, which had been “substantially damaged” and was in acute need of oxygen and essential medical supplies plus water, food and fuel, as well as additional health personnel.

Tedros had described it as a “very high-risk mission in the vicinity of active shelling and artillery fire.”

He said yesterday the convoy was stopped twice at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint on the way to northern Gaza and on the way back, adding that some Palestinian Red Crescent staff were detained both times and questioned for several hours.

“As the mission entered Gaza City, the aid truck carrying the medical supplies and an ambulance were hit by bullets,” he said.

Tedros stressed that “the people of Gaza have the right to access health care.”

“The health system must be protected. Even in war.”

 Israeli troops storm north Gaza hospital

Te Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Israeli forces were raiding a hospital in the north of the Palestinian territory.

“Israeli occupation forces are storming Kamal Adwan hospital after besieging and bombing it for days,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

Qudra said the troops were rounding up men in the hospital courtyard, including medical staff.

“We fear their arrest and the arrest of the medical teams or their killing,” the health ministry spokesman added, calling for international intervention.

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