- The communications blackout, now in its second day, largely cuts off Gaza’s 2.3 million people
- UNRWA unable to bring in aid convoy on Friday: Spokesperson Juliette Touma
RAFAH (Agencies): The United Nations was forced to stop deliveries of food and other necessities to Gaza on Friday and warned of the growing possibility of widespread starvation after Internet and telephone services collapsed in the besieged enclave because of a lack of fuel.
The communications blackout, now in its second day, largely cuts off Gaza’s 2.3 million people from one another and the outside world — and paralyzes the coordination of aid, which humanitarian groups were already struggling to deliver because of the fuel shortage.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, was unable to bring in its aid convoy on Friday, said spokesperson Juliette Touma. With no immediate prospect for Israel allowing in more fuel, it was unclear how long the situation would continue.
“An extended blackout means an extended suspension of our humanitarian operations in the Gaza Strip,” Touma told The Associated Press.
Israeli forces, meanwhile, have signaled they could expand their offensive toward Gaza’s south even while pressing operations in the north. Troops have been searching the territory’s biggest hospital for traces of a Hamas command center the military alleges was located under the building.
They have shown what they said were a tunnel entrance and weapons found inside the compound but not yet any evidence of the command center, which Hamas and staff at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital deny existed.
The war, now in its sixth week, was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, in which the militants killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and captured some 240 men, women and children.
On Friday, the military said it found the body of another hostage, identifying her as Cpl. Noa Marciano. Marciano’s body was recovered in a building adjacent to Shifa, the military said, like that of another hostage found Thursday, Yehudit Weiss.
More than 11,400 Palestinians have been killed in the war, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble. The count does not differentiate between civilians and militants, and Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.