Palestinians sit in the rubble of a residential building leveled in an Israeli airstrike as they search for victims and survivors, in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, 26 October 2023. EFE/EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

Israeli attacks in southern Gaza forced 30,000 displaced to return to north: UN

Geneva, Oct 27 (EFE).- Israeli attacks in southern Gaza have forced around 30,000 displaced people to return to northern parts of the besieged strip, an area Israel had previously ordered to be evacuated in anticipation of a large-scale ground operation earlier this month, United Nations said on Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas has led to the displacement of an estimated 1.4 million people in Gaza since Oct 7.

Approximately 641,000 of them are residing in 150 UN emergency shelters, where the average number of internally displaced people (IDPs) per shelter is almost three times their intended capacity.

Another 200,000 have sought refuge in hospitals, churches, schools and other public buildings, while nearly 700,000 are hosted by local families, according to the statement.

Citing Gaza health authorities, OCHA said that over the past 24 hours, attacks have resulted in the deaths of 481 people, including 209 children, bringing the total number of deaths in Gaza to 7,028, including 2,913 children, since Israel-Hamas clashes began on Oct 7.

About 1,600 Gaza residents, including 900 children, have been reported missing and may be under the rubble, it said.

Among the deadliest attacks carried out on Thursday were airstrikes targeting residential buildings in Khan Yunis with 40 deaths and in Rafah near the Egypt border with 12 deaths, five of them children, as per the statement.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, said that Israel continues to issue evacuation warnings, but Gaza residents “can’t evacuate – because they have nowhere to go or are unable to move.”

“When the evacuation routes are bombed, when people north as well as south are caught up in hostilities, when the essentials for survival are lacking, and when there are no assurances for return, people are left with nothing but impossible choices,” she added.

According to the UN, hospitals in Gaza were operating with less than one-third of their normal staff, with many hospitals grappling with overwhelming numbers of IDPs, including Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, housing approximately 50,000 people in addition to its patients.

Medical teams were increasingly reporting cases of acute respiratory disorders and diarrhea among children under the age of five due to inadequate nutrition and poor hygiene, it said.

The death toll on the Israeli side remains at 1,400, with nearly all of them killed on the first day of the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

According to Israeli authorities, 224 people are held captive in Gaza, including Israelis and foreign nationals, with Hamas claiming that 50 of the hostages had been killed in Israeli airstrikes. EFE