International observers are horrified at the devastation being wrought upon southern Gaza today, as Israel supposedly displays its civilian-friendly invasion. Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, released their statement today, announcing that “We have been forced to halt nearly all of our aid operations due to the bombardment, the chaos, and the panic.” He begins his statement: “The pulverizing of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age.”
Speaking only of southern Gaza, the first “safe zone” that Israel has flooded with refugees displaced from northern Gaza, Egeland said: “Today, more than 750,000 people are crowded into just 133 shelters. Tens of thousands live on the streets of southern Gaza, where, under bombardment, they are forced to improvise basic shelters from whatever they can get hold of. The winter rains have arrived and so have infectious diseases, just as public health services have been utterly paralyzed. Many of my own NRC staff members now live on the streets.”
Egeland said that “There must be accountability for those responsible for the killings, the torture, and the atrocities committed in Israel on October 7th.” But he added: “The killing of thousands of innocent children and women, the siege on an entire civilian population, … behind closed borders in Gaza are also crimes under international law. … This military campaign can in no way be described as ‘self-defense.’ … The situation in Gaza is a total failure of our shared humanity.”
The spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) James Elder said in a Dec. 5 UN press briefing, with Unicef, WHO, FAO, UNHCR, etc. in Geneva, that the so-called safe areas were nowhere near meeting basic requirements. The Israeli approach to creating these zones, he said, is “This is calculated, it’s cold and it speaks to … the lack of any sense of decency that has been enacted on relentless attacks on mums and kids and families.” He warned: “We have the perfect storm for disease outbreak, remembering … Israel is the occupying power. It’s there, you have to provide food, water, medicines. So now, given we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, right now this minute who are moving somewhere with bombardments at scale, 200 a day yesterday … the only possible way to create safe spaces in Gaza that are truly safe, that protect human life, is for the hell to stop raining down from the sky. Only a ceasefire … is going to save the children of Gaza right now.”
“It’s a safe zone when you can guarantee the conditions of food, water, medicine and shelter. I’ve seen for myself these are entirely, entirely absent…. These are tiny patches of barren land or they’re street corners. They’re sidewalks. They’re half-built buildings. There is no water…. Only a ceasefire is going to save the children of Gaza right now.”
“The situation is getting worse by the hour,” said Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in Gaza at the same Geneva briefing. “There’s intensified bombing going on all around, including here in the southern areas, Khan Younis and even in Rafah”—yet another so-called safe zone. “We will witness the same pattern of what happened in the north. That cannot happen ... I want to make this point very clear that we are looking at an increasing humanitarian disaster.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday, before today’s massive escalation, addressed an appeal to the IDF to spare civilians from more suffering: “Civilians—including health workers, journalists and UN personnel—and civilian infrastructure must be protected at all times.” He added that, despite the evacuation orders, “there is nowhere safe to go in Gaza.” Separately, the UN announced that 19 more of their employees had been killed, bringing their total to 130.
“Every time we think things cannot get any more apocalyptic in Gaza, they do,” said UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, yesterday. “People are being ordered to move again, with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another. NOWHERE IS SAFE IN GAZA. Not hospitals, not shelters, not refugee camps. No one is safe. Not children, not health workers, not humanitarians. Such blatant disregard for basic humanity must stop. The fighting must stop.” (Emphasis in original.)