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  • Three fuel trucks are ready to cross from Egypt into Gaza, an Egyptian security source said, but an aid official in Gaza said there was no confirmation that more fuel would be brought in
  • World Health Organization says it is very worried about the spread of disease in the enclave
  • Al Qassam Brigades say they fire mortar bombs at kibbutz in southern Israel

GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 17 (Reuters) – U.N. aid deliveries to Gaza were suspended again on Friday due to shortages of fuel and a communications shutdown, deepening the misery of thousands of hungry and homeless Palestinians as Israeli troops battled Hamas militants in the enclave.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said civilians faced the “immediate possibility of starvation” due to the lack of food supplies.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said a number of Palestinians were killed and others injured in an Israeli strike that hit a group of displaced people near the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt – the transit point for aid.

Al Jazeera TV cited sources as saying that nine people were killed in the strike.

There was no immediate comment from Israel on the reported strike and Reuters could not verify it.

Israel said its troops had found a tunnel shaft used by Hamas at Al Shifa hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip.

The hospital, packed with patients and displaced people and struggling to keep operating, has become a major focus of global concern. Israel says Hamas has stored weapons and ammunition and is holding hostages in a network of tunnels under hospitals like Shifa, using patients and people taking shelter there as human shields. Hamas denies this.

With the war about to enter its seventh week, there is no sign of any let-up despite international calls for a ceasefire or at least for humanitarian pauses.

The conflict was triggered by a cross-border raid by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, in the deadliest day in the state’s 75-year-history.

More than 11,500 Palestinians, at least 4,700 of them children, have now been killed in Israel’s retaliatory military assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry – a toll that far surpasses previous bouts of conflict in recent years.

Israel has vowed to wipe out the militant group. Whole neighbourhoods of Gaza have been flattened in air and artillery strikes, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic, aid agencies say.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), quoting Palestinian date, said Israeli attacks had destroyed or damaged at least 45% of Gaza’s housing units.


The United Nations said there would be no cross-border aid operation on Friday due to fuel shortages and a communication shutdown. For a second consecutive day on Thursday no aid trucks arrived in Gaza due to lack of fuel for distributing relief.

An Egyptian security source said three fuel trucks were ready to cross from Egypt into Gaza on Friday, but an aid official inside the enclave said there was no confirmation that more fuel would be brought in.

Nearly the entire Gazan population is in desperate need of food assistance, said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.

“With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” she said in a statement.

A U.N. human rights official said Israel must allow water and fuel into Gaza to restart the water supply network.

“Every hour that passes with Israel preventing the provision of safe drinking water in the Gaza Strip, in brazen breach of international law, puts Gazans at risk of dying of thirst and diseases,” Pedro Arrojo-Agudo said.

The World Health Organization said on Friday it was very worried about the spread of disease in Gaza, citing more than 70,000 reported cases of acute respiratory infections and over 44,000 cases of diarrhoea, far more than expected.


The Israeli military’s chief of staff said Israel was close to destroying Hamas’ military system in northern Gaza and there were signs the army was taking its campaign to other parts of the coastal enclave of 2.3 million people.

Israel accused Hamas of preventing people from heading to the south of the Gaza Strip, which the militant group denied.

The army released a video it said showed a tunnel entrance in an outdoor area of Shifa, Gaza’s biggest hospital.

The video, which Reuters could not verify, showed a deep hole in the ground, littered with and surrounded by concrete and wood rubble and sand. It appeared the area had been excavated. A bulldozer appeared in the background.

The army said its troops also found a vehicle in the hospital containing a large number of weapons.

Reuters journalists have been unable to reach anyone inside Shifa hospital for more than 24 hours.

Hamas said on Thursday that U.S. claims that the group uses Shifa for military purposes was “a repetition of a blatantly false narrative”.

Israeli officials had said Hamas held some of the 240 hostages taken by gunmen on Oct. 7 in the hospital complex.

On Friday, the Israeli military said soldiers retrieved the body of a female soldier who had been held captive, in a building near Shifa.

The military had confirmed her death on Tuesday after Hamas issued a video of her alive followed by images of what it said was her body after she was killed in an Israeli strike.

On Thursday, troops recovered the body of another woman hostage, also in a building near Shifa.

Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades said they fired mortar bombs at Nirim kibbutz in southern Israel a few kilometres from the border with Gaza. The area has been under daily militant fire.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Hamas’ Al-Quds Brigades said they had engaged Israeli forces for several hours in the city of Jenin overnight, unleashing a “torrent of fire” and laying ambushes with explosives.

Israel’s military said war planes struck militants in Jenin who had opened fire on Israeli soldiers. It said at least five militants were killed.

At least 178 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since Oct. 7. The violence there has underscored fears that the territory, seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, could spiral out of control in tandem with the conflict in Gaza.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Ari Rabinovitch and Reuters bureaux; Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years’ experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace accord between the two sides.

#Aid #supplies #Gaza #halted #starvation #imminent

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