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Top priority urged for humanitarian relief

Global community seeks cease-fire as Palestinian-Israeli conflict rages


The international community and organizations continue to push for an immediate cease-fire and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict entered the second week.

Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel continued on Saturday, with tens of rockets being intercepted by Israeli air-defense systems, while the Israel Defense Forces continued to pound Gaza with airstrikes and issued a second warning to Gaza residents, urging them to evacuate to the southern part of the coastal enclave. The army allowed safe passage on two major routes in the Gaza Strip for several hours and resumed massive airstrikes afterward.

Israel's mass evacuation order was met with rejection from several countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkiye, as well as regional and international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Arab League.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, warned on Saturday of the current situation.

"The United Nations and its member states must intensify efforts to mediate an immediate cease-fire between the parties before we reach a point of no return," she said.

Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed the necessity of the international community's intervention to halt the firing, put an end to all forms of military escalation against civilians, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian territories.

International aid groups have pleaded with the international community and Israel to set up a humanitarian corridor to allow the safe passage of humanitarian personnel and relief supplies into Gaza. The aid materials from outside have been arriving in Cairo but they are stuck as the only entry point to Gaza from Egypt was closed.

Ahmed Bayram, a media and communications adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Middle East, told China Daily it was calling for humanitarian corridors to let aid and humanitarian teams in, including the delivery of much-needed medical equipment and medication.

Essential goods

"Humanitarian corridors will allow humanitarians to reach civilians in need, conduct assessments and deliver essential goods. Our latest joint statement also calls for the medical evacuation of those with complicated, life-threatening conditions," said Bayram.

Juline Beaujouan, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, told China Daily that the rules of engagement "have changed dramatically", especially in the Middle East region, in recent decades.

Beaujouan said one of the elements of this change is the weaponization of humanitarian aid, making it extremely hard for them to balance the need to alleviate human suffering and to retain some degree of impartiality and neutrality.

The number of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the conflict reached more than 3,600 as fighting entered the second week, The Associated Press reported.

An estimated 1 million people have been displaced in the first seven days of the conflict in Gaza, according to a United Nations agency.

Hundreds of foreigners flocked on Saturday to the Rafah border crossing, the only crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to flee the Palestinian enclave.

There have been massive Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, in retaliation for Hamas-led attacks on Israel since Oct 7.

Saudi Arabia has suspended talks on potentially normalizing ties with Israel, Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday.

"Saudi Arabia has decided to pause discussions on possible normalization and has informed US officials," a source familiar with the discussions told AFP. The source spoke the same day as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, during a six-nation tour of the region.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said on Saturday that the conflict could be "another source of uncertainty" for the global economy.

However, the IMF chief said that she, with other IMF officials, believes it is "too early" to ascertain the conflict's impact on the global economy.


Agencies and Xinhua contributed to this story.

Source:China Daily / 2023-10 / 16 /Page012
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