Amid the ongoing crisis in Gaza, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the cancellation of its sixth planned medical aid mission to northern Gaza due to security concerns. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed deep concern over the challenges faced by humanitarian organizations in reaching those in need.
The cancellation is a result of unapproved requests and a lack of security assurances since the WHO’s last visit to the region on December 26. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the obstacles, including intense bombardment, movement restrictions, fuel shortages, and interrupted communications, which collectively make it impossible for WHO and its partners to provide essential assistance.
During a virtual press conference from Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged Israel to approve requests from WHO and other humanitarian partners to deliver aid to the affected areas. He emphasized the urgency of addressing the deteriorating situation, where millions of people are grappling with displacement, damaged infrastructure, and severe shortages of food, water, and medicine.
The current crisis in Gaza stems from the Israeli offensive launched in response to a deadly rampage by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7. The offensive has resulted in the displacement of a significant portion of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, widespread destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, and critical shortages of essential supplies. Despite a recent pledge to scale down the conflict, fighting has escalated, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
As of Wednesday, only 15 hospitals in Gaza remain functional, operating at partial capacity. The dire situation underscores the immediate need for humanitarian assistance. The WHO’s repeated cancellations of medical aid missions highlight the formidable challenges faced by organizations striving to provide essential services in the midst of ongoing hostilities and security concerns.
The international community is closely monitoring the situation, and calls for urgent action to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need are growing louder. The plea to Israel to facilitate the approval of aid requests reflects the critical role that coordinated international efforts play in addressing humanitarian crises and alleviating the suffering of affected populations.
In the face of these challenges, the WHO and its partners remain committed to their mission of providing vital medical assistance. However, the situation on the ground underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected population in Gaza.
The United Nations’ top court is set to commence hearings on Thursday, with South Africa seeking to compel Israel to cease its bombardment. In a demonstration of solidarity, dozens of Palestinians gathered in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, expressing gratitude to South Africa for initiating a “genocide” case against Israel regarding its actions in Gaza.
The crowd, gathered in front of the Nelson Mandela statue, waved Palestinian flags, listened to speeches, and displayed signs advocating to “Stop the genocide” and expressing appreciation to South Africa. Ramallah Mayor Issa Kassis emphasized the importance of acknowledging those who understand their pain, stating, “We feel that South Africa listens to our heart.”
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has a longstanding commitment to the Palestinian cause, drawing parallels with its historical struggle against apartheid and its ties with Israel. Nelson Mandela once asserted that South Africa’s freedom would be incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.
Mvuyo Mhangwane, South Africa’s representative to the Palestinians, reiterated the enduring friendship between South Africa and Palestine, emphasizing that Palestine is not alone. While the International Court of Justice (ICJ) can make binding decisions, its enforcement capabilities are limited. Despite this, Israel and the United States strongly opposed the case.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed the case as “meritless” on Tuesday, expressing frustration over the involvement of Hamas and Iran, which aim to eliminate Israel. Last week, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy accused South Africa of providing “political and legal cover” for the Hamas-launched attack on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,140 deaths in Israel, predominantly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
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