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The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) “Flash Update #77,” issued Dec. 26, paints an ugly picture over the Christmas weekend. On Christmas Day the “Gaza Water Authority announced that the Israeli pipelines supplying water to the Bani Suhaila area east of Khan Younis had stopped working as a result of airstrikes that caused severe damage to the lines, which led to the failure to pump water to all areas of Khan Younis. This line supplies about 14,400 cubic meters of water per day and is one out of two lines that supplies drinking water to the southern area.” They add that the Israeli pipelines for water to northern Gaza have not functioned since Oct. 8. Three days earlier, OCHA had reported that “the only desalination plant used by the residents of North Gaza” was destroyed.

The World Health Organization’s chief economist stated that “the scale and speed of unfolding acute food insecurity” in Gaza over the last two months is “unprecedented” in its severity. The OCHA Update continues: “The entire population of the Gaza Strip faces an imminent risk of famine.” OCHA’s Famine Review Committee was activated, evidently triggered by their finding that Gaza’s “acute food insecurity Phase 5 (Catastrophic threshold)” had been surpassed. Nothing but the cessation of hostilities to relieve the severe deterioration of health, nutrition, food security, and mortality made any sense.

The UN’s distribution of food from Dec. 18-24 for 1.9 million displaced Palestinians reached 12% of its target, and almost all of what they distributed was flour. Otherwise, food parcels reached almost 300,000 people for one serving during the week, and about 7,500 hot meals a day were provided.

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