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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

“The horrendous events of the past 48 hours in Gaza beggar belief.”

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Image via the Palestinian People's Party

Top UN officials echoed the call to improve conditions for Gaza’s 2.3 million people, 1.7 million of which have been displaced since October 7.

“This war is having a staggering and unacceptable number of civilian casualties, including women and children, every day,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Sunday. “This must stop. I reiterate my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said in a statement on Sunday that: “The horrendous events of the past 48 hours in Gaza beggar belief.”

“The killing of so many people at schools turned shelters, hundreds fleeing for their lives from Al-Shifa Hospital amid continuing displacement of hundreds of thousands in southern Gaza are actions which fly in the face of the basic protections civilians must be afforded under international law,” Mr. Türk said

The Gaza Ministry of Health announced that the number of killed in the Gaza Strip reached more than 11,823 as of Saturday evening (November 18), including 4,912 children, 3,164 women, and 693 elderly, while the number of injuries reached more than 29,500 wounded.

Later on Sunday, medical sources in Gaza announced that all 31 premature babies had been evacuated from the Shifa complex by the World Health Organization and the United Nations, after it was evacuated yesterday from all those present in it, including patients, wounded, displaced people, and medical staff.

The UN reports:

In less than 24 hours, two UNRWA schools sheltering displaced families were hit, causing “many deaths” and injuries, mostly of women and children, in addition to other deadly incidents across Gaza and the West Bank against the backdrop of soaring humanitarian needs, UNRWA said.
Mr. Türk said at least three other schools hosting displaced Palestinians have also been attacked.
“This must stop,” he said. “Humanity must come first. A ceasefire – on humanitarian and human rights grounds – is desperately needed. Now.”
Philippe Lazzarini, who heads UNRWA, said in a statement on Sunday that the attacks are “just cruel”.
“I watched with sheer horror reports from an attack on the Al-Fakhoura UNRWA school-turned-shelter in northern Gaza,” he said.
Classrooms sheltering displaced families were hit and at least 24 people were reported killed in the strike. Up to 7,000 people were in the school at the time, the UNRWA chief said. On Friday, following strikes on the UNRWA Al-Falah/Zeitoun school in Gaza City, ambulances could not reach the school, where 4,000 people were sheltering.

Mounir el-Boursh, the Gaza health ministry director, dismissed the Israeli statement on a tunnel allegedly found at al-Shifa Hospital as a “pure lie”.
“They have been at the hospital for eight days … and yet they haven’t found anything,” he told Al Jazeera.
At one point a shelter for tens of thousands of Palestinian war refugees, al-Shifa has been evacuating patients and staff since Israeli troops swept in last week on what they called a mission to root out hidden Hamas facilities.
Israel’s repeated attacks on medical facilities, health personnel, and ambulances in Gaza should be “investigated as war crimes”, international NGO Human Rights Watch said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 37 of those killed were Palestinian, four were Israeli, and one was Lebanese.
It added that nine journalists have been injured, three are reported missing, while 13 have been arrested since the Gaza war began.
The watchdog also said that there have been reports of multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.
“CPJ emphasises that journalists are civilians … and must not be targeted by warring parties,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator.
Journalists “in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit.”



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