International aid agencies called on world leaders to stop Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as hospitals turned chaotic and the little aid that usually trickles into the strip almost ceased.
Aid agency Oxfam urged world leaders to stop Israel from launching further attacks, saying the military action risked triggering a worse humanitarian crisis as the International Committee of the Red Cross painted a dire picture of, saying hospitals are in a state of chaos and unable to deal with the flood of injured people.
Oxfam said it had been forced to suspend most of its humanitarian work in the territory and said a program that would feed 25,000 people had also been put on hold.
"Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza depend on Oxfam and other international aid agencies for the basics of life — clean water, food and sanitation," said John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam program manager in Jerusalem.
"The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gaza civilians in violation of international law," he said.
"Oxfam condemns outright Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. However they cannot justify this overwhelming military response which is killing innocent civilians," he added.
Meanwhile, international aid group the ICRC said in a statement: "The situation in hospitals is described as chaotic."
"Palestinian sources indicate that by 10:00 a.m. local time on Dec. 29, some 310 people had been killed and at least 1,000 wounded, 180 seriously.
"Medical teams have been dealing with a constant influx of wounded since Dec. 27 and are stretched to the limit," the statement added.
"We are completely overwhelmed by the number of people coming in with very serious injuries. I have never seen anything like this," the statement quoted the head of the surgical ward of Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City as saying.
The statement said the ICRC was moving swiftly to assist Gaza’s hospitals, which were overburdened even before the sudden influx of casualties.
According to the ICRC office in the Gaza Strip, the humanitarian situation remains alarming.
Gaza streets were mostly empty. However, long queues were reported to be forming in front of bakeries. Meanwhile, prices for basic commodities were reportedly rising fast.
Activists Bring Medical Aid
Aid workers, doctors and a former U.S. Congresswoman sailed for battered Gaza with medical aid from Cyprus on Monday evening, defying Israeli air attacks on the Palestinian territory.
The organizers of the shipment, the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement, said they would ferry three tons of urgently needed medical supplies, donated by Cyprus, to the Gaza Palestinians.
One passenger, American Cynthia McKinney, said she wanted to highlight what she said was a trail of devastation left by U.S. weapons sold to Israel.
"There is a need for the people of the United States to understand that every piece of rubble that is on that strip of land is caused by U.S. weapons," said McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Israel has not stopped activists from the Free Gaza Movement from sailing to the coastal territory in the past, though the territory was declared a closed military zone on Monday. The Israeli navy patrols Gazan coastal waters.
Egypt Opens Crossing
Wounded Palestinians are treated on the floor of Kamal Edwan hospital in northern Gaza
Wounded Palestinians finally passed through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Monday as medical aid went in the other direction to the devastated Gaza Strip.
By evening, 18 patients, some in critical condition, had crossed at the only Gaza exit point which does not lead to Israel, the official MENA news agency said.
Egyptian lorries loaded with medicines moved in early afternoon into the neutral zone of the Rafah terminal to allow the transfer of their cargoes onto Palestinian vehicles.
Trucks carrying aid sent by Qatar and Libya were also able to transfer their loads.
The Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, Nabil Amr, said Saudi Arabia had sent two fully equipped hospital aircraft to tend the wounded.
The oil-rich kingdom also sent aid to Egypt which would "immediately" be passed on to Gaza, an Egyptian official told MENA.
Egyptian authorities had opened the Rafah border point on Saturday on the first day of the massive Israeli air operation against the Hamas movement, which controls the impoverished Palestinian territory.
(Alarabiya.net and news agencies)