Israel Hamas War : WHO Warns Of ‘Worrying Trends’ In Disease In Gaza; US Strikes Iran Linked Site In Syria

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The Gaza Strip faces an increased risk of disease spreading due to Israeli air bombardments that have disrupted the health system, access to clean water and caused people to crowd in shelters, the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday.

“As deaths and injuries in Gaza continue to rise due to intensified hostilities, intense overcrowding and disrupted health, water, and sanitation systems pose an added danger: the rapid spread of infectious diseases,” WHO said.

“Some worrying trends are already emerging.”

It said that the lack of fuel in the densely populated enclave had caused desalination plants to shut down, which increased the risk of bacterial infections like diarrhoea spreading.

WHO said that more than 33,551 cases of diarrhoea had been reported since mid-October, the bulk of which among children under five.

It said the number of children affected marked a significant increase compared to an average of 2,000 cases monthly in that age group throughout 2021 and 2022.

The lack of fuel has also disrupted the collection of solid waste, which WHO said created an “environment conducive to the rapid and widespread proliferation of insects, rodents that can carry and transit diseases.”

It said that it was “almost impossible” for health facilities to maintain basic infection prevention measures, increasing the risk of infection caused by trauma, surgery and childbirth.

“Disrupted routine vaccination activities, as well as lack of medicines for treating communicable diseases, further increase the risk of accelerated disease spread,” it warned.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians fled northern Gaza on Wednesday, the Israel Defence Forces said, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of “worrying trends” in the risk of disease in the territory after weeks of Israeli airstrikes.

The accelerating exodus came as Israeli forces closed in on the centre of Gaza City, launching intense bombardments, and claimed that Hamas had lost control of the north of the territory.

Those fleeing Israel’s expanding ground assault included children, older people and people with disabilities, and most walked with minimal belongings, the UN said. Many carried makeshift white flags amid fears they could be targeted. The Israeli military said 50,000 people had fled the north on Wednesday, up from 15,000 on Tuesday.

The Israeli military has escorted journalists from some outlets through parts of Gaza. Here is some of the first-person report by AFP:

Gaza City’s suburbs began to appear after about 30 minutes of navigating broken roads. We were approaching the focal point of the fight between Israel and Hamas in the territory.

On Wednesday, AFP was embedded with Israeli soldiers, and witnessed the devastation of a month of war at first hand. Our still and video images were submitted to the Israeli military censor for approval.

Security was at a maximum for the incursion which lasted a few hours, and was organised for several representatives of the foreign media covering the Israel-Hamas war.

We drove the few kilometres (miles) from the southern border of Israel into northern Gaza City in an Israeli armoured vehicle which jolted over bumps in the road.

The outside landscape could be seen on screens inside the vehicle: broken palm trees, distorted road signs and twisted lampposts along the ruins of what was once north Gaza’s main arterial route.

Israeli flags now fly over buildings at beach resorts in northern Gaza. There is little sign of any human presence amid the destruction.

After a month of fighting, the Israeli military says it has cut the Gaza Strip in two in an offensive becoming more intense by the day.

At least 19 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house near a hospital in north Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp on Wednesday, the Gaza’s interior ministry said.

There was no immediate Israeli comment or details on the reported attack, which if confirmed would be the third on Gaza’s largest refugee camp in a week.

The Guardian has not verified this independently.

Israeli air strikes devastated parts of Jabalia on 31 October and 1 November, killing at least 195 civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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