UN warns that Israel is still blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza
Israeli soldiers stand next to personnel carriers (APC) near the Israeli-Gaza border, April 15, 2024. | AP

Israel is still imposing “unlawful restrictions” on aid for Gaza, the United Nations warned today, despite claims by the occupying state and the Biden administration that barriers have eased.

Israel has been facing increasing pressure to allow more humanitarian supplies into the devastated strip.

UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said: “Israel continues to impose unlawful restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian assistance, and to carry out widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.”

The UN children’s agency UNICEF, meanwhile, has called for an increase in medical evacuations from Gaza, saying that less than half of applications for evacuation have been successful.

“With at least 70 children injured every day, we need the number of medical evacuations to increase so children can access the care they urgently need,” said UNICEF’s Tess Ingram. She described cases of children she met who had endured gunshot wounds and amputations.

“Their shattered bodies and fractured lives are a testament to the brutality being forced upon them,” Ingram said.

The Israeli agency which co-ordinates aid into Gaza — COGAT — claims that a food convoy entered Gaza today via a new northern crossing. Many hundreds of trucks need to enter daily if even a dent is to made in the mass starvation suffered now by the people of Gaza.

The official death toll of Palestinians in Gaza since October 7 is 33,843, including 46 deaths over the past 24 hours, Gaza’s health ministry said today.

The UN calls follow warnings against escalating tensions in the Middle East following this weekend’s retaliation attack by Iran. Two weeks ago Israeli warplanes, with the backing of the United States, triggered the current crisis when they violated international law by bombing an Iranian diplomatic complex in Damascus, Syria, killing 16 people, including several high-ranking Iranian officials. The retaliation by Iran, widely considered as mild, resulted in no deaths with all the drones and missiles, except one, fired by Iran having been shot down before they even reached Israel. At first, the U.S. said there was no need for further retaliation by Israel but the Biden administration and the Israeli government have now changed their tune, with the US saying it is considering more punishing sanctions against Iran.

It is expected that the United States,  theEuropean Union and Israel-allied states will hit Iran with new sanctions following calls by Israel that they do so. It exposes EU and US hypocrisy since they first claimed that they oppose further attacks on Iran. It also exposes who it is that is really behind efforts to stir up support for war in the Mideast that will draw attention away from the genocide underway by Israel. Despite all kinds of claims by the US that it is for peace there have been no real efforts thus far to put a stop to the attacks on the people of Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz says he has written to more than 30 countries calling for the sanctions against Iran.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Biden administration could impose new sanctions “in the coming days” and that Iran’s oil exports “remain in focus as a possible area.”

Treasury to use its authority

Yellen said the Treasury would use its sanctions authority and work with allies to “continue disrupting the Iranian regime’s malign and destabilizing activity.” The threats by Yellin, of course, are themselves a major “destabilizing” factor in the Mideast.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, a known war monger regarding the use of German troops in Europe, Ukraine and Russia, also called on the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Iran.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that Iran will not get off “scot-free” after the drone attack.

“We will respond the way that we will choose at the time that we will choose,” he said.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that his country would react to the slightest action against its interests with a “severe, extensive and painful response.”

Tehran said that the attack on Saturday was retaliation for the Israeli air strike on its consulate in Syria on April 1, in which 16 people were killed.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called on the international community to stop Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu from “stealing” attention away from Gaza by escalating its confrontation with Iran.

International NGOs have signed a letter saying that escalating tensions in the Middle East are “unprecedented” and “risk threatening the lives of millions of civilians.”

The group of 13 organizations, which includes the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council, has called for more political and diplomatic action to “prevent increased civilian harm” and “avoid the security situation spiraling out of control.”

The group has also called for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza to prevent further human suffering.”

Meanwhile, in north-east Gaza, Israeli forces began a military operation in the town of Beit Hanoun with intense air strikes and artillery shelling.

Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles entered the town and surrounded three schools housing thousands of displaced people. People were fired at and driven out of their shelter.

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Ceren Sagir
Ceren Sagir

Ceren Sagir is a reporter and deputy news editor for Morning Star, the English-language socialist daily newspaper from Britain, and the UK representative for Halk TV, a Turkish nationwide TV channel.