Entire neighbourhoods in Gaza have been obliterated by air strikes, satellite images revealed yesterday as the UN warned: ‘Nowhere is safe.’
Israel’s aerial bombardment of the enclave has reduced whole districts to rubble, forcing an estimated 600,000 people into emergency shelters.
Satellite images revealed the extent of the devastation, showing piles of debris where homes, shops and businesses once stood.
Israel insisted its strikes have targeted Hamas leaders and infrastructure, and that it warned civilians to evacuate northern Gaza and head south.
But air strikes have also hit the south of the Palestinian territory, where more than a million people have attempted to find safety.
The head of the UN’s Palestinian aid agency said Gaza now resembled ‘hell on earth’, with evacuated families facing intolerable dangers and hospitals unable to treat the wounded and the dying.
Civil defense teams and residents conduct a search and rescue operation for Palestinians stuck under the debris of a demolished building following Israeli airstrikes hit Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on October 24
A Palestinian child is assisted as people search for casualties at the site of an Israeli strike on a residential building in Gaza City, on October 25
UN representative Philippe Lazzarini said Gaza’s civilian population was not responsible for the deadly Hamas raids that prompted the war and should not be punished for the gunmen’s brutality.
Writing in The Guardian, he said: ‘Entire neighbourhoods are being flattened over the heads of civilians in one of the most overcrowded spots on earth… There is nowhere safe in Gaza.
‘The reality today in Gaza is that there is not much humanity left and hell is settling in.
‘History will ask why the world did not have the courage to act decisively and stop this hell on earth.’ Some 7,028 Palestinians have been killed in the air strikes according to Gaza’s health ministry, which is run by Hamas.
The US questioned the accuracy of the death toll, prompting authorities in Gaza to issue a 212-page dossier of names and identity numbers. Thousands more have been injured, with hospitals reporting they have no electricity for life support machines or operating theatres.
Doctors have operated without anaesthetics and have resorted to using vinegar to clean wounds after supplies of antiseptic ran out. Almost 3,000 children were said to be among the dead and families have taken to tying cotton bracelets to children’s wrists so their bodies can be identified.
The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told an emergency session in New York: ‘What choice do you make as a parent when there are only impossible choices? When death is everywhere, devastation is everywhere.’
He said 40 per cent of homes in Gaza were destroyed. Israel’s ambassador to the UN hit back, detailing atrocities carried out by the Hamas gunmen during the October 7 raids and holding up photographs of those killed.
The international community largely supported Israel’s right to defend itself following the raids, but it now faces growing calls for a ceasefire to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
Aid agencies said more than a million people had fled after Israel’s evacuation order to leave northern Gaza, placing huge demand on scant resources in the south. Up to 30,000 have since returned north after they were unable to find shelter, food and water.
Palestinians inspect the rubble of destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday
Charities said starvation had been used as a ‘weapon of war’ and that people were so thirsty they had been drinking seawater. Israel has eased its ‘total siege’ on Gaza to allow some humanitarian aid to enter on trucks from Egypt.
But aid workers say the limited supplies of food, water and medicines are a tiny fraction of what is needed, and Israel has refused to allow any fuel in amid fears it will be used by Hamas.
The UN said its emergency aid work could not continue without fuel, as trucks could no longer distribute aid and bakeries could not make bread to feed the desperately hungry.
The World Health Organisation said hospitals were ‘on the precipice of an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe’ as fuel and supplies ran out.
UN spokesman Tamara Alrifai said dwindling supplies of fuel were not enough for vital services. ‘Do we give for the incubators or the bakeries?’ she said. ‘It is an excruciating decision.’
Last night, EU leaders called for ‘humanitarian corridors and pauses’ to get aid into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a total ceasefire.