8 May 2024

'Deprived of dignity': Bare necessities lacking as Israel attacks Rafah - UNICEF

7:03 pm on 8 May 2024
Displaced Palestinians arrive in Khan Yunis after leaving Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip due to an evacuation order by the Israeli army.

Displaced Palestinians arrive in Khan Yunis after leaving Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip due to an evacuation order by the Israeli army. Photo: AFP / Majdi Fathi

Israeli forces have taken control of the vital Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, meaning essential supplies and lifeline services cannot get through according to an aid agency.

The UN says the Rafah crossing is now effectively closed along with the Karem Shalom crossing.

Save the Children reports trucks carrying medicine, equipment and fuel unable to get through either crossing since Sunday.

"The water situation is absolutely dire," United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson James Elder told Checkpoint.

People were living on a litre of water a day, which was a "catastrophic number below any sort of emergency level".

It was about 3500 people for one shower, he said, and people queued all day to "maybe" get to the front of the line.

He said commodities like medicines and fuel for hospitals needed to move everyday, "so doctors can operate this horror show with light".

In the past seven months, only a fraction of what was needed was allowed in.

But now it was worse.

"In the last two days, nothing is coming in. The bombardment continues.

"The people have been deprived of quite literally everything, dignity included."

The Israeli offensive in Rafah was happening where all the aid came through, he said.

Most people in Gaza would access water through desalination plants.

He said only one desalination plant was running, after fuel reserves declined and pipes to the others were "blown up".

"Rafah, which is now a city of children," was home to about 300,000 people. Now there were about 1.4 million there, he said.

"Everyone's in tents, living side by side in very, very difficult conditions.

"It's bombardments every night. You lie in Rafah as I've done, and it feels like you're lying in a coffin."

This handout picture released by the Israeli army shows the 401st Brigade's combat team tanks entering the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. The Israeli army said it took "operational control" of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing on May 7 and that troops were scanning the area. (Photo by Israeli Army / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Handout / Israeli Army' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

Israeli army tanks in Rafah on 7 May 2024. Photo: AFP PHOTO / Handout / Israeli Army

Israeli army footage on Tuesday showed tanks rolling through the Rafah crossing complex between Gaza and Egypt, and the Israeli flag raised on the Gaza side. Israel says Rafah is Hamas fighters' last stronghold.

Hamas official Osama Hamdan on Tuesday warned that if Israel's military aggression continued in Rafah, there would be no truce agreement.

Israel's military said it was conducting a limited operation in Rafah to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, which runs Gaza. It told civilians, many of whom were previously displaced from other parts of Gaza earlier in the conflict, to go to an "expanded humanitarian zone" some 20km away.

- Additional reporting by Reuters

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