Israel’s refusal to allow fuel into Gaza has resulted in a fuel shortage that is severely impacting aid operations conducted by United Nations (UN) organizations, according to the Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). On Wednesday, the UN warned that the limited fuel supplies could seriously hinder aid efforts in the region, with UNRWA stating that it would no longer be able to work if the fuel is exhausted.
UNRWA spokesperson Tamara el-Rifae expressed the urgency of the situation, stating that without a way to obtain fuel, their operations could come to a halt. She explained that they would have to make difficult decisions regarding the allocation of the remaining fuel, such as directing it to hospitals for generators, bakeries to produce bread for survival, trucks to deliver aid, or desalination plants for clean water.
It is anticipated that the fuel will run out on Thursday, further exacerbating the already dire situation in Gaza. Although some aid, including food, water, and medical supplies, has entered Gaza through Egypt, Israel has refused to permit the transportation of fuel into the region since the attack by the Hamas militant group on October 7. Israel has cited concerns that fuel could be used for offensive military purposes by Hamas.
The potential halt of aid operations caused by the fuel shortage has raised concerns about the well-being of the population in Gaza. The UNRWA’s website stated that current stocks are almost completely exhausted, leading to a halt in life-saving services, including the supply of piped water and fuel for the health sector, bakeries, and generators.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) added fuel to the controversy by publishing a satellite photograph on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which appears to show storage tanks containing 500,000 liters of fuel in Gaza. The IDF’s caption sarcastically suggested that people should ask Hamas if they can have some fuel.
This ongoing crisis in Gaza has resulted in a significant loss of life, with Palestinian officials reporting that over 7,000 people, including around 3,000 children, have been killed since Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes against Hamas earlier this month. The healthcare system in Gaza is on the brink of collapse, with a third of hospitals not functioning adequately and others only able to handle emergency cases.
To alleviate the situation, a minimum of 74 supply vehicles, excluding fuel, carrying various humanitarian supplies have entered Gaza through Egypt since Saturday. Prior to the recent conflict, 500 trucks would enter the territory daily.
UNRWA’s Juliette Touma emphasized the urgency of the situation and the importance of their organization’s work. She stated that they are the largest humanitarian organization and are on the verge of halting operations, emphasizing that all they are asking for is to be able to continue their work.
In conclusion, the fuel shortage in Gaza is having a significant impact on UN aid operations, potentially leading to a halt in life-saving services. The ongoing crisis in the region has resulted in a high loss of life and a collapsing healthcare system. Urgent measures are needed to address the fuel shortage and ensure the continuation of essential humanitarian efforts in Gaza.