‘Heart-wrenching’ – UN Official Decries Human Cost of Gaza War

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland. (Photo: Eskinder Debebe, United Nations)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“The scenes of destruction & suffering of people are heart-wrenching, and it is clear that urgent action is needed to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the Gaza Strip.”

The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, has described the situation in the Gaza Strip as “heart-wrenching”, saying it is clear that urgent action is needed to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

“Visited Gaza yesterday & witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of the hostilities,” Wennesland posted on X on Tuesday. “The scenes of destruction & suffering of people are heart-wrenching, and it is clear that urgent action is needed to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the Gaza Strip.”

The UN official visited the Al-Amal Hospital in southern Gaza where he said he met with local officials “to address the immediate needs” of the population.

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“What I saw in Gaza is a stark reminder of the human cost of conflict,” he stressed.

Wennesland stressed that there was  “a serious proposal on the table – outlined by President Biden – and I urge all parties to reach an agreement immediately to achieve a ceasefire and return the hostages.”

He added: “There is no alternative – and any delay, every day simply costs more lives.”

Three-Phase Plan

On Friday, US President Joe Biden announced that Israel has proposed a three-phase plan to end hostilities in Gaza and secure the release of the captives. The plan includes a cease-fire, a captive-prisoner exchange, and reconstruction of Gaza.

The president urged the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas to accept the proposal and called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resist pressure from coalition members who oppose the plan.

Netanyahu however stated on Monday that he is “not ready to stop” the war, dismissing Biden’s remarks about a ceasefire proposal as “inaccurate.”

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“I am not ready to stop the war,” Netanyahu said during a confidential discussion in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as reported by the Israeli public broadcaster KAN.

Netanyahu claimed that Biden’s ceasefire proposal details were “inaccurate.”

“The outline presented by Biden is partial. The war will be paused for the purpose of returning hostages, after which we will have further discussions,” Netanyahu reportedly said.

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Level of Challenges

On Monday, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Andrea De Domenico, said “the idea of extending this (Gaza) war for another six months or seven months is simply terrible.”

De Domenico, highlighted the impact of the Israeli invasion of Rafah since May 6, “with the subsequent move (of) up to almost a million people that found refuge for months in Rafah,” and being forced to move again suddenly.

“I think there is no other place in the world where the system has been put to such level of challenges and stretch,” he said.

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Staggering Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 36,586 Palestinians have been killed, and 83,074 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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