‘At tipping point’: Intl. bodies lose touch with staff in Gaza amid blackout

By Press TV Staff Writer

In a social media post on Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated its calls for an immediate ceasefire in the besieged Gaza Strip amid the Israeli regime’s bombing campaign.

The global health body said civilians, patients and health workers spent the night in darkness and fear.

“During a night of intense bombardment and ground incursions in Gaza, with reports of hostilities still continuing, health workers, patients and civilians have been subject to a total communication and electrical blackout,” the statement noted, referring to the communication blockade.

The blockade came hours before the Israeli military on Friday night intensified its ground offensive against the besieged coastal territory but saw fierce resistance from the Gaza-based fighters.

“Reports of bombardment near the Indonesia and Al Shifa hospitals are gravely concerning. WHO reiterates that it is impossible to evacuate patients without endangering their lives,” it stated.

There were reports of bombings close to the two hospitals late on Friday, sparking fears that they would be the next after Al-Ahli Arab Hospital to be reduced to ashes by the regime’s sweeping aerial blitz.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO, also took to X on Saturday to share his concern about the “intense bombardment of Gaza” by the Israeli regime.

“Evacuation of patients is not possible under such circumstances, nor to find safe shelter. The blackout is also making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured,” he wrote.

“We are still out of touch with our staff and health facilities. I’m worried about their safety.”

Late on Friday, Ghenreyesus announced in an X post that the world health body had “lost touch” with its staff in Gaza, as well as health facilities, health workers and other humanitarian partners on the ground.

“This siege makes me gravely concerned for their safety and the immediate health risks of vulnerable patients. We urge immediate protection of all civilians and full humanitarian access.”

The regime cut off internet and communications in the Gaza Strip Friday night, disconnecting nearly 2.3 million people from the outside world and creating an information blackout.

It came after the Israeli military said it was “expanding” ground operations in the besieged territory.

Apart from the WHO, other international humanitarian organizations also announced that they had lost touch with their colleagues in the Gaza Strip.

“We have lost touch with our colleagues in Gaza.  I’m extremely concerned about their safety and another night of unspeakable horror for 1M children in #Gaza,” Catherine Russell, the Executive Director of UNICEF said in a post on X late on Friday.

“All humanitarians and the children and families they serve MUST be protected.”

His remarks came hours after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and a halt to the Israeli regime’s bombardment.

“Everyone must assume their responsibilities. This is a moment of truth. History will judge us all.”

In a statement, Oxfam International also expressed concern over the lack of connection with staff in Gaza.

“Gaza facing total communication blackout as on ground and air offensive intensifies. @Oxfam is deeply concerned about the situation, especially the total loss of communication with Gaza,” read the statement.

“We demand a #CeasefireNOW to protect innocent lives.”

Doctors Without Borders, in a post on X, also said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation in the besieged strip after the communications blackout.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza. We have lost contact with some of our Palestinian colleagues on the ground,” the humanitarian agency said in a statement.

“We are particularly worried for the patients, medical staff and thousands of families taking shelter at Al Shifa Hospital and other health facilities.”

MSF also called for the “unequivocal protection of all medical facilities, staff and civilians” in Gaza.

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, in a post on X, said they had also lost touch with colleagues in the Gaza Strip following the communication blockade.

“We have lost touch with our team in #Gaza. I am gravely concerned for them & their families. They have already lived through such horrors over the last 21 days & now face another night of bombardment and fear,” Bahous wrote.

I echo my @UN colleagues; we need a humanitarian ceasefire now.”

Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), expressed the same concern in a statement on Saturday.

“We have lost contact with our teams in Gaza. The silence is deafening. As conflict rages on, I am extremely worried for the safety of all humanitarian workers and civilians,” she said on Saturday.

“We are at a tipping point. Humanity must prevail.”

The UN Human Rights office in Palestine also lost touch with colleagues in Gaza on Friday night.

We’ve lost touch with our colleagues in #Gaza, who, like many thousands of Palestinians, are under #Israeli bombardment. Deeply concerned about the protection of civilians and #HumanRights of #Palestinians in Gaza,” the organization said on Saturday.

Amid the communication blockade, the Israeli regime troops have been trying since Friday night to launch a full-scale ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, but have failed so far.

The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas resistance movement, said in a statement early on Saturday that it was fighting Israeli forces in two areas inside the Gaza Strip.

“We are confronting an Israeli ground incursion in Beit Hanoun (in the northern Gaza Strip) and east Bureij (in the center) and violent engagements are taking place on the ground,” the statement said.

Hamas underlined that its forces in Gaza are ready to confront Israeli attacks with “full force”, describing the Israeli military as a “defeated army”.


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