Israel-Gaza war updates: UN demands "unimpeded" humanitarian access amid dire condition in Gaza

Gaza City, Gaza - Palestinians in war-torn Gaza are desperately awaiting the arrival of aid trucks promised under a deal President Joe Biden struck with Egypt and Israel as heavy bombardment continues.

Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza continues, with residential buildings in the al-Zahra area of the strip leveled.
Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza continues, with residential buildings in the al-Zahra area of the strip leveled.  © REUTERS

"The pace of death, of suffering, of destruction... cannot be exaggerated," the top UN humanitarian official Martin Griffiths said about the crowded territory home to 2.4 million people.

There are fears of worse to come if Israel launches its anticipated ground invasion.

Biden, on a flying visit to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet on Wednesday, reiterated strong US support for the long-time ally but also stressed the need to address the plight of Palestinian civilians.

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He said he had agreed a deal for an initial 20 trucks carrying relief good to cross the shuttered Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza, with the first deliveries expected Friday at the earliest.

More than 100 trucks carrying aid goods have been queued for days on the Egyptian side of the crossing, the only entry or exit point to Gaza not controlled by Israel.

Cairo has so far kept it closed, pointing to repeated Israeli strikes near the crossing and voicing fears that Israel may be hoping to permanently drive Palestinians out and into Egypt's Sinai desert.

UPDATE, October 19, 4:15 PM EDT: Russia slams the US over Israel-Gaza war as US delivers army supplies

The Israeli Defense Ministry has reportedly received a shipment of vehicles from the US that arrived via transport plane and are set to replace destroyed Israeli army vehicles.

The delivery is part of "a large-scale procurement operation" to reinforce a "fleet of vehicles to address a range of operational scenarios," a ministry spokesperson said. They also included armored ambulances and equipment.

Russia said on Thursday that the US' veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a "humanitarian pause" in the Israel-Gaza war will have "monstrous consequences."

Twelve of the 15 Council members voted in favor of the resolution, which also condemned the "heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas." The US was the only vote against, but as one of the body's five permanent members, it counted as a veto.

The White House also confirmed late Tuesday that at least 31 US citizens have been killed since the war ramped up in Israel last week, with President Biden noting Americans were among those detained by Hamas overseas. 13 American nationals were reportedly unaccounted for.

UPDATE, October 19, 12:45 PM EDT: UN demands "unimpeded humanitarian access"

UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged "rapid, unimpeded humanitarian access" to the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Israel kept up the bombing.

"We need food, water, medicine and fuel now. We need it at scale and we need it to be sustained, it is not one small operation that is required," Guterres said in Cairo, Egypt. "In plain terms, that means humanitarians need to be able to get aid in and they need to be able to distribute it safely."

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza – the only route in or out not controlled by Israel – was bombed four times by Israeli aircraft last week. It is expected to finally open on Friday, which would mark the first time in two weeks that Palestinians will be supplied with necessities that have dwindled to almost nothing.

UPDATE, October 19, 12:30 PM EDT: US State Department official resigns in protest at Biden administration policies

An official working for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM), which is one of the government agencies responsible for directing the flow of US military aid, has resigned in protest at the Biden administration's unconditional support of Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Josh Paul, the PM director of congressional and public affairs, called the US response "an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia."

President Joe Biden is expected to ask Congress to pass an $100-billion military aid package, part of which will be dedicated to the Israeli war in Gaza.

Dissent from this position has been rare at the political level, despite growing demands for a ceasefire from activists, charities, and human rights organizations.

A resolution to that effect was introduced on Monday by 13 progressive Democrats, who were roundly criticized for their stance.

UPDATE, October 19, 7:45 AM EDT: Rocket attacks on Israeli settlements resumes

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have resumed shelling Israeli settlements.

The Israeli army said on Thursday that warning sirens were sounding again in the coastal city of Ashkelon and in towns near the border.

Earlier, there had been no reports of new rocket attacks from the coastal strip for about 15 hours.

UPDATE, October 19, 7:30 AM EDT: Palestinian death toll rises as water crisis looms

The latest death toll reported by Gaza's health ministry has risen to 3,785, over 1,500 of whom are children.

Lack of water is becoming the biggest concern in Gaza, with aid organizations such as Action Against Hunger warning of "a health crisis on the brink of explosion."

After cutting off water, fuel, and electricity to the entire territory, Israel this week announced it was restoring water to parts of southern Gaza, but access remains insufficient and restricted by the lack of power for pumps.

UPDATES, October 19, 7:15 AM EDT: Israel issues update on Hamas hostages

Families of people kidnapped by Hamas are desperately seeking their return.
Families of people kidnapped by Hamas are desperately seeking their return.  © REUTERS

Families of 203 people have been informed of the abduction of their relatives by Hamas to Gaza, the Israeli army confirmed.

Previously, there had been estimates of at least 199 people.

Hundreds of Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7 and killed over 1,400 people as well as kidnapping others.

Hamas has said that some of the hostages have died in Israeli bombings on Gaza.

UPDATES, October 19, 7:00 AM EDT: Hospital bombing blame game continues

The Arab world has been united in anger and condemnation of Israel since a deadly strike hit a Gaza hospital compound on Tuesday. Both sides in the war have traded blame for the bloody carnage, but neither the provenance of the strike nor the death toll could be independently verified.

The strike left scores of bodies and charred cars at the Ahli Arab hospital compound in northern Gaza.

Hamas charged that Israel hit the hospital during its massive bombing campaign and Gaza's health ministry put the death toll at 471.

Israel blamed a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket, a claim backed by Biden who said the US Defense Department had concluded that "it's highly unlikely that it was the Israelis. It would have had a different footprint".

An investigation by UK network Channel 4 questioned both sides' version of events, with a recording produced by the IDF allegedly capturing Hamas operatives discussing a failed rocket launch being dismissed as "fake."

Cover photo: REUTERS

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