We welcome the news that there will be a pause in the relentless bombardment of Gaza and the safe release of civilian hostages and detained children. We hope that this will be adhered to by all parties.
But a temporary pause will not be enough to end the bloodshed and address the humanitarian catastrophe. A pause will have little worth if the killing resumes in a few days. The international community must use this brief window of opportunity to work towards a permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege.
We are extremely worried that bombing seems to be intensifying even further ahead of the truce coming into effect, with more civilian casualties this morning.
Full details of the agreement have not yet been confirmed but initial reports suggest it falls far short of what is needed. There are reports that bombing will continue in northern Gaza even during this period, which would inevitably kill many more civilians, and the amount of aid that will enter Gaza in the next few days will barely even scratch the surface of what is needed given the sheer scale of the crisis.
Israel’s intense bombing and siege has left Gaza in ruins, with almost half of all homes now damaged or destroyed, as well as hundreds of schools and health facilities. People are on the verge of starvation because so little food has been allowed to enter and bakeries have been destroyed. Only nine of Gaza’s 33 hospitals are now operational and those that are open are overwhelmed with casualties and desperately short of fuel and basic medical supplies. More than 1.7 million people are now displaced, many of them sheltering in severely overcrowded shelters where diseases are rapidly spreading as children sleep out in the rain and hundreds of people share a single toilet. They cannot safely return home without a long-term ceasefire, and many of them have no homes left to return to anyway.
Since 7 October only 1,399 aid trucks have been allowed into Gaza – whereas even before this escalation around 10,000 trucks of aid entered Gaza every month, and now the needs have massively increased. All efforts must now be made to get as much aid in as possible – including by reopening the Kerem Shalom crossing to increase capacity and ensuring that more fuel can enter, without which hospitals, bakeries and water systems will not be able to resume functioning. Even so, a four or five-day increase will be nowhere near enough without a permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege.