UNRWA says Gaza operations being deliberately strangled
The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency said on Thursday he believed there was a deliberate attempt to "strangle" its humanitarian work in Gaza, warning that the agency may have to entirely suspend its operations due to a lack of fuel.
"I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyse the operation," UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini told journalists in Geneva, calling it "outrageous" to force humanitarian aid agencies to beg for fuel.
He added that the agency, which supports more than 800,000 displaced people in Gaza, was at risk of suspending its operations entirely.
Lazzarini said the organisation had pleaded for weeks for access to fuel, which on Wednesday was carried into Gaza for the first time since the start of Israel's war on the strip.
That fuel - 24,000 litres (6,340 gallons) of diesel fuel for UN aid distribution trucks - is nowhere near what Gazans need to survive, Lazzarini said.
"Because of the lack of fuel, we will not be able to send our trucks across the south of the Gaza Strip where we have people waiting for humanitarian deliveries," he said.
Gaza's main telecommunications companies, Paltel and Jawwal, said on Thursday that all telecom services in the densely populated enclave had gone out of service as all energy sources have been depleted.
"It can provoke or accelerate [the breakdown of] last remaining civil order we have in the Gaza Strip," Lazzarini said of the blackout, who said the scale of loss and destruction in Gaza was "just staggering."
"If this completely breaks down we will have difficulties to operate in an environment without a minimum of order."