Israel-Hamas war: Chaotic scenes at Gaza aid stations with ‘half the population starving’

‘There is a question for how long this can continue, because the humanitarian operation is collapsing,’ says UN official

The situation inside Gaza was increasingly chaotic as people grabbed what they could from aid distribution points, with larger numbers of people displaced southwards close to the border with Egypt and aid trucks at risk of being stopped by desperate residents if they even slow down at an intersection, according to UN official Carl Skau.

“There is a question for how long this can continue, because the humanitarian operation is collapsing,” he said.

“Half of the population are starving, nine out of 10 are not eating every day. Obviously, the needs are massive.”

Meanwhile, the aerial bombing campaign by Israel in Gaza is the most indiscriminate in terms of civilian casualties in recent years, a study published by an Israeli newspaper has found.


The analysis by Haaretz came as Israeli forces fought to consolidate their control of northern Gaza on Saturday, bombing the Shejaiya district of Gaza City, while also conducting air strikes on Rafah, a town on the southern border with Egypt where the Israeli army has told people in Gaza to take shelter.

The full death toll from the past 24 hours was unclear but the main hospital in central Gaza, at Deir al-Balah, reported it received 71 bodies, and 62 bodies were taken to Nasser hospital in the main southern city of Khan Younis, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Haaretz analysis found that in three earlier campaigns in Gaza, in the period from 2012-22, the ratio of civilian deaths to the total of those killed in air strikes hovered at about 40 per cent. That ratio declined to 33 per cent in a bombing campaign earlier this year, called Operation Shield and Arrow.

In the first three weeks of the current operation, Swords of Iron, the civilian proportion of total deaths rose to 61 per cent, in what Haaretz described as “unprecedented killing”.

The ratio is significantly higher than the civilian toll in all the conflicts around the world during the 20th century, in which civilians accounted for about half the dead.

“The broad conclusion is that extensive killing of civilians not only contributes nothing to Israel’s security but that it also contains the foundations for further undermining it,” Haaretz concluded.

“The Gazans who will emerge from the ruins of their homes and the loss of their families will seek revenge that no security arrangements will be able to withstand.”

An Israeli hostage has been killed in Gaza, according to a statement. Sahar Baruch (25), one of the estimated 240 hostages taken during the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, was killed in Hamas captivity, according to a joint statement from his community, the Be’eri kibbutz, and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

“It is with great sadness and a broken heart that we announce the murder of Sahar Baruch who was kidnapped from his home by Hamas terrorists to Gaza on Black Saturday and murdered there. His brother Idan was murdered by Hamas on October 7,” the statement said.

Elsewhere, rights groups have condemned the United States for blocking a UN security council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in the war between Israel and Hamas.

The United States on Friday defied appeals from its Arab allies and the UN secretary general to back an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, instead vetoing the resolution. The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1 with the UK abstaining.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the US decision to block the resolution was “a turning point in history”.

In a strongly worded address to the security council after the vote, Mr Mansour said the results of the vote were “regrettable” and “disastrous”, warning that prolonging the war in Gaza “implies the continued commission of atrocities, the loss of more innocent lives, more destruction”.

Amnesty International’s secretary general said the US decision to veto the resolution was “morally indefensible”.

Agnès Callamard said: “By vetoing this resolution, the US has displayed a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll, extensive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe happening in the occupied Gaza Strip.

“The US has brazenly wielded and weaponised its veto to strong-arm the UN security Council, further undermining its credibility and ability to live up to its mandate to maintain international peace and security.”

Human Rights Watch said the United States risked “complicity in war crimes” by continuing to provide Israel with weapons and diplomatic cover.

Avril Benoît, executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières US, has said the US decision to veto the resolution “makes it complicit in the carnage in Gaza.”

However, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, thanked the United States and President Joe Biden for vetoing a draft security council resolution.

Posting to social media, Mr Erdan praised the US president for “standing firmly by our side” and for showing “leadership and values”.

Hamas condemned the US veto at the UN security council, describing it as “unethical and inhumane”.

The UN security vote came after a dramatic warning from UN chief António Guterres that civil order in Gaza was breaking down.

With the UN claiming its relief operation was grinding to a halt and its staff being killed, Mr Guterres earlier this week took the extremely rare step of invoking article 99 of the UN charter, which permits him to bring a threat to world security to the attention of the security council.

The head of the main UN agency in Gaza has said it was “the darkest hour” in the organisation’s history.

Philippe Lazzarini said the agency is “barely” operational in Gaza, and that its staff – at least 130 of whom have been killed – “take their children to work, so they know they are safe or can die together”.

“We are hanging on by our fingertips,” he said. — Reuters/Guardian