Western nations silence aggravates humanitarian crisis in Gaza: Erdogan tells Putin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. (Turkish Presidency/Handout via Xinhua/IANS) File photo

TN Ashok

Washington, Oct 24 (IANS) Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the ‘savagery’ towards Palestinian lands is deepening and alleged that the Western nations silence is aggravating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart, Erdogan said western countries’ silence was exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that civilians were constantly being killed, Guardian reported.

Multiple agency reports quoted a statement from Erdogan’s office reiterating Turkey’s stand that Ankara would continue working to achieve calm in the region. Turkey was one of the first countries to try to send aid into Gaza via Egypt after the conflict broke out.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has estimated that the death toll has reached over 700 in last 24 hours. At least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October.

The ministry said that the number included 2,360 children. A spokesperson for the ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra, said they had received 1,550 reports of missing people, including 870 children, and suggested that those missing could still be under rubble of collapsed buildings.

The UK said 12 British people were killed on 7 October in Israel and five remained unaccounted for. British-Israeli families of those held hostage held a press briefing at the Israeli embassy in London. People also took part in a vigil for children killed in Gaza in central London.

Meanwhile, The Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the military was “ready and determined” for the next stage in the war and was awaiting political instruction even as the US was asking it to delay as Pentagon officials felt that Israel had no clear end goals in mind on the invasion of Gaza.

In a social media post, the Israel Defence Forces claimed to have struck more than 400 targets in the past 24 hours in what was described as “a wide-scale operation to dismantle Hamas’ terrorist capabilities.”

Hamas has released two more hostages from Gaza on “humanitarian and poor health grounds”. Nurit Cooper, also known as Nurit Yitzhak (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85) were kidnapped along with their husbands from the Nir Oz kibbutz near the Gaza border on 7 October.

The 85-year-old grandmother is now in an Israeli hospital where she was seen thanking Hamas officials after release from captivity but recounted on reaching Israel that her life had been turned upside down and that she went through “living terror and hell” during captivity.

Lifshitz described her ordeal at a press conference in a Tel Aviv hospital. The 85-year-old told reporters she had “been through hell” after being captured by Hamas fighters on motorbikes and beaten with sticks and forced to walk. She went on to describe conditions in the tunnels where she had been held, where she said people treated her “gently” and “looked after our needs”. The captives were fed and they slept on mattresses.

She said there were doctors and paramedics there to tend to wounds. She was critical of Israel’s military for not taking the threat of Hamas seriously enough before the attack.

Meanwhile, Hamas official Osama Hamdan urged Arab, Islamic countries and the UN to try to halt Israel’s assault on Gaza. Hamdan has also called on Arab countries to end any normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel.

On Monday, Israel said it had established that there were 222 hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas. The IDF said on Tuesday it was attempting to contact residents in Gaza to offer them “a better future for you and your child” by providing information “regarding the abductees in your area.”

In a joint media appearance with the French President Emmanuel Macron, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, threatened “horrible consequences” for Hezbollah in Lebanon if it decided to join the war in a meaningful way.

Macron called for the release of hostages and said terrorism was a common enemy of Israel and France. He said terrorism must be fought without mercy but with rules.

About 1.4 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million-strong population has now been displaced. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA has said that there is a shortage of clean drinking water while overcrowding has become a major concern.

Doctors in Gaza said that the patients arriving at hospitals are showing signs of disease caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation.

Tamara Alrifai, of UN Palestine refugee relief agency UNRWA, has described the aid delivered to the Gaza Strip as a drop in the ocean. Just 54 trucks with relief supplies are reported to have crossed into Gaza since Saturday. Alrifai said that there is an urgent need of fuel while some of the aid sent in — rice and lentils — was useless because people did not have clean water or fuel to cook them.

UNRWA has also confirmed that another six of its staff members have been killed in Gaza, bringing the total killed since 7 October to 35.

It said 40 UNRWA installations had been damaged so far by Israeli airstrikes. Israel Air Force said it killed someone in Lebanon who was trying to launch a rocket into northern Israel.

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