More Than 2 Million People at Risk of Starvation in Gaza, UN Says.

Christopher Cann and Minnah Arshad / USA Today
More Than 2 Million People at Risk of Starvation in Gaza, UN Says. Palestinians look for survivors after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Oct. 16, 2023. (photo: AP)

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Gaza remains effectively cut off from the rest of the world because of a near-total communications blackout as a fuel shortage hinders humanitarian efforts and impairs critical infrastructure.

U.N. agencies released statements Thursday and Friday saying Gaza’s 2.3 million people are at risk of starvation and face an increased threat of disease as water desalination plants and sewage facilities cease operations.

According to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, around 70% of the population in Gaza is drinking salinized and contaminated water. Additionally, the World Health Program reported only 10% of necessary food supplies have entered Gaza since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

“Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders," said World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain in a statement. "With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation."

On Thursday, two of Gaza’s largest mobile networks Jawwal and Paltel announced all telecom services had gone out because “energy sources sustaining the network have been depleted, and fuel was not allowed in." Service had not been restored Friday.

Israeli officials said two tankers of fuel will be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip on a daily basis to support collapsing water, communications and sewage infrastructure. Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel's national security advisor, in a news conference called the shipments "very minimal" and said they're also intended to stop the spread of disease while not compromising the military's efforts to destroy Hamas.

Over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war last month, according to Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas. Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly civilians slain in Hamas' brutal attack on Israeli border communities on Oct. 7. Around 240 people were taken captive by militants.


∎ Emergency medical teams with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society are trapped at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City as Israeli tanks and forces are stationed around the facility, the independent aid group said on X.

∎ Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of Al-Shifa Hospital, told Al-Jazeera that all of the patients in the facility's intensive care unit have died. Salmiya told the outlet that some 7,000 people including patients, staff and civilians seeking shelter remain in the facility without water or electricity.

∎ Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, said staff and families – totaling 137 people, including 65 children – are trapped inside the organization's premises near Al-Shifa Hospital. Bullets were fired into the MSF guesthouse, and shelling hit the water tank.

∎ Israel’s missile defense systems were activated over Tel Aviv late Friday to intercept rockets fired by militants in Gaza. No injuries were reported.

∎ Some 250 foreign nationals and two injured Palestinians entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Friday, according to CNN. On the same day, more than 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have been allowed to enter the besieged enclave.

∎ A spokesperson for the Israeli military said troops overnight encountered and killed Hamas militants at a school in Gaza. The statement posted Friday on X said multiple weapons were found at the school.

Body of second hostage found near Al Shifa Hospital

The bodies of two of the approximately 240 people kidnapped in Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas rampage were found Thursday and Friday near Gaza City's Al Shifa Hospital, according to the Israeli military.

The body of Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old corporal in the Israeli military, was discovered on Friday near Gaza's largest medical facility and has been taken back to Israel, the military said on X. An Israeli military spokesperson said she was killed by Hamas but did not provide further details. Hamas said Marciano died in an Israeli airstrike.

A day earlier, the body of 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss was found in a building near the Al Shifa complex. Her husband, Shmulik Weiss, was killed in the Hamas assault. They had five children, Israeli officials said.

Israeli strikes hit areas of southern and central Gaza, reports say

As Israeli ground forces continued operations in northern Gaza, airstrikes bombarded the southern region of the enclave and an army raid in the occupied West Bank saw troops and Palestinian militants exchange heavy gunfire.

Israeli airstrikes hit at least two homes in southern Gaza late Thursday and Friday morning, survivors told the Associated Press. Mohammed Zaqout, the head of Gaza’s hospitals, said a total of 35 people were killed in airstrikes in Khan Younis and the nearby town of Rafah overnight. Al Jazeera reported on Friday that at least 18 people were killed late Thursday in strikes at the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

In a statement published Friday on Telegram, a spokesperson for the Israeli military said forces "struck numerous terror targets in the Gaza Strip." The statement did not include further details about the location of the strikes.

International Criminal Court investigating alleged crimes

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan confirmed Friday it is investigating the “Situation in the State of Palestine” following referrals from five countries.

South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti made referrals to the court about the case, for which Khan said his office has collected a “significant volume of information and evidence.”

“This investigation, commenced on 3 March 2021, encompasses conduct that may amount to Rome Statute crimes committed since 13 June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” Khan said. “It is ongoing and extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on 7 October 2023.”

The Rome Statute encompasses four main offenses: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Khan said his office will continue to engage with “all relevant actors” to further the investigation, including national authorities, survivor groups and international partners.

Pro-Palestinian rally outside Union Station

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Union Station in Washington D.C. Friday evening as police closed the front entrances and directed people entering and leaving the station to use other doors.

The Metro posted an alert for the Red Line around 6:30 p.m. that trains were "temporarily bypassing Union Station due to First Amendment Activity.” At 8:15 p.m., the agency said Union Station had reopened.

The crowd chanted “Shut it down" and “Cease-fire now,” as people waved Palestinian flags and carried signs.

Friday’s demonstration is one of dozens across the nation since the war began last month. Hundreds of thousands have rallied at college campuses, on Capitol Hill and across transit systems.

Deadly raid strikes West Bank town

In the West Bank, battle erupted between Israeli forces and militants in the town of Jenin.

The Israeli military said it killed five militants in the raid and arrested 15 Palestinians. At least three Palestinians were killed in the raid and 15 were injured, Palestinian health officials said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces detained and searched ambulance crews attempting to aid injured patients flowing into Ibn Sina Hospital in the West Bank. The organization posted videos on X showing paramedics with their hands in the air as they walked out of a hospital entrance and approached armored vehicles.

Jewish celebrities decry antisemitism on TikTok

TikTok executives met privately with Jewish creators and Hollywood celebrities to respond to the rapid rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial in the wake of the Gaza conflict.

During the meeting Wednesday, actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Debra Messing and Amy Schumer and creators such as Eitan Bernath and Miriam Ezagui urged action from TikTok. The social media company arranged the session after an open letter from the group condemned the company’s response to escalating hate and harassment including rape and death threats against the Jewish community.

“I feel like our original letter and your article made a big impact on them and got their attention,” said Montana Tucker, a 30-year-old dancing and singing sensation on TikTok with 9.3 million followers.

This week, USA TODAY reported that the escalation has also targeted Holocaust survivors, one of whom is leaving the platform because of it.

“I think they really heard us, and I would be shocked if change doesn’t come from that call to be honest, I think it really hit them in ways I don’t think they expected," Tucker said. "They now realize the severity of it and they realize what they have to do.”

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