Israel began limited shipments of fuel to Gaza on Saturday, but the United Nations said the supplies are only half of what is needed to provide water and power for the enclave as the war-torn region struggles with an increasing humanitarian crisis.
“Following long weeks of delay, the Israeli Authorities approved only half of the daily minimum requirements of fuel for humanitarian operations in Gaza,” U.N. Palestinian aid chief Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement Saturday.
“This is far from enough to cover the needs for desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, aid trucks, ambulances, bakeries and communications networks to work without interruption,” he added.
Israel announced the new fuel shipments late Thursday, bending to U.S. pressure to provide better assistance for civilians in Gaza amid the nation’s the war on Hamas in the territory.
Israel has banned shipments of fuel from entering Gaza for most of the Israel-Hamas war, since early last month. Lazzarini described the ban on fuel as a “deliberate attempt to strangle our operation.”
Fuel ran out across much of Gaza on Thursday, causing power outages and water shortages. Raw sewage ran in the streets of parts of the territory, creating health concerns, the UN said.
Israeli national security director Tzachi Hanegbi explained the fuel deliveries are intended to stop disease in the territory and make fighting easier for the Israeli military.
“If there is an epidemic, the fighting will be stopped,” Hanegbi said. “If there is a humanitarian crisis and an international outcry, we will not be able to continue the fighting under those conditions.”
The U.N. halted food and medical convoys to Gaza on Friday due to the fuel shortage and a lack of communication, but said they would restart on Saturday.
The Israel-Hamas war began early last month after Hamas militants killed 1,200 Israelis in a brutal surprise attack on border settlements.
An Israeli airstrike campaign and ground invasion have since killed over 11,100 Palestinians, including over 4,600 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry .Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue strikes until the more than 200 hostages taken captive are returned.
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