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Famine fears mount before key vote

Updated: 2023-12-23 07:39

Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Thursday. International aid agencies say Gaza is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies as a result of the relentless bombardment by Israel. FATIMA SHBAIR/ASSOCIATED PRESS

GAZA — The United Nations warned the latest Israel-Palestine conflict was pushing Gaza toward famine, ahead of an expected Security Council vote on Friday on a resolution to boost aid to the Palestinian territory, but not call for a cease-fire.

Separate diplomatic efforts were also underway for a fresh pause in the worst-ever conflict in Gaza.

With conditions deteriorating in the territory, the UN Security Council has been locked in negotiations on a resolution that would boost aid deliveries.

The latest draft seen by media, set to face a vote on Friday, calls for "urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities". It does not call for an immediate end to fighting.

Backed by its ally the United States, Israel has opposed the term "ceasefire". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday there would be no cease-fire in Gaza until the "elimination" of Hamas.

The Security Council on Thursday once again postponed the long-delayed vote due to disagreements from the US. This is the fourth time within a week that the voting has been postponed.

The conflict began on Oct 7 after Hamas militants broke through Gaza's militarized border and killed around 1,140 people in Israel. Hamas also abducted about 240 people.

Vowing to destroy the group, Israel began a relentless bombardment of targets in Gaza, alongside a ground invasion, which the territory's Hamas government on Friday said has killed 20,057.

Catastrophic conditions

The entire population of Gaza faces "an imminent risk of famine", according to a UN-backed global hunger monitoring system on Thursday, with more than half a million people facing "catastrophic conditions".

"We have been warning for weeks that, with such deprivation and destruction, each day that goes by will only bring more hunger, disease and despair to the people of Gaza," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The UN estimates 1.9 million Gazans are now displaced, out of a population of 2.4 million.

With their homes destroyed, they are living in crowded shelters and struggling to find food, fuel, water and medical supplies. Diseases are spreading, and communications have been repeatedly cut.

Displaced Gazans are pleading for a cease-fire.

"My message is to put an end to this humiliation," said Fuad Ibrahim Wadi, who found refuge at a greenhouse in Rafah.

"This conflict does nothing but destroy. Enough is enough."

Qatar last month helped broker a truce that saw 105 hostages released, including 80 Israelis, in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Hopes that Israel and Hamas could be inching toward another truce rose this past week as the head of Hamas visited Egypt and talks took place in Europe.

However, the stated positions of Israel and Hamas remain far apart.

The military wing of Hamas said on Thursday that Israel's objective to eliminate it was "doomed to fail" and that further hostage releases depend on a "cessation of hostilities".


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