middle east

Palestinians declare 2 cities in northern Gaza ‘disaster areas’ amid Israeli onslaught

Palestinian municipal authorities on Sunday declared the cities of Jabalia and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip as “disaster areas.”

“The Jabalia refugee camp and Beit Hanoun town are now disaster areas,” Naji Sarhan, the head of the Municipal Emergency Committee, told a press conference.

He said Israeli forces have destroyed some 50,000 housing units and bulldozed drainage networks and roads in most municipalities in northern Gaza. Sarhan added that 35 water wells and several schools and facilities run by the UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) have also been destroyed.

“The people of northern Gaza live in difficult humanitarian conditions with most residents lacking food, medicine, and fuel,” he said.

The Palestinian official appealed to the UN and international organizations to “intervene immediately to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip since last Oct. 7 has left the territory’s population on the verge of starvation, particularly in northern Gaza, home to nearly 700,000 people. Last month, Israel captured the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, a vital route for humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave.

Israel has launched a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip following a Hamas attack last Oct. 7, killing more than 36,400 people, the vast majority of whom have been women and children, and injuring over 82,600 others, according to local health authorities. Nearly eight months into the Israeli onslaught, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins amid Israel’s crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war.

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