Israel-Hamas war live updates: Blinken meets with Arab nations after U.S. vetoes cease-fire resolution

Kirby: U.S. working to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza

The National Security Council’s spokesperson today stopped short of agreeing that Gaza is on the brink of collapse.

Asked if he agreed with the assessment of a United Nations’ official who said Gaza is “on the brink of full-blown collapse,” John Kirby said, “I would just say we’re mindful of the extreme humanitarian suffering inside Gaza, and we’re doing everything we can to help alleviate that.”

Thomas White, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said today civil order in Gaza was breaking down and much-needed shipments of aid were being looted if they make it through at all.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said today aid was being choked off, with only 69 trucks with vital supplies making it into the enclave yesterday.

Kirby, speaking aboard Air Force One en route to Las Vegas, said “dozens” of trucks carrying aid were being held up by Israeli inspections, and the United States would like to see about 200 such trucks reach Gaza each day.

U.S. official says Israel scaled back northern Gaza incursion over civilian casualty concerns

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby today said Israel scaled back its military operations in northern Gaza over concerns about potential civilian casualties raised by the United States.

“They have, in fact, taken some steps to try to be more careful,” he said during a news conference aboard Air Force One. “For instance their movement into Gaza, north Gaza, was smaller than originally planned. And some of that is based on some council and perspective that we shared.” 

U.S. military advisers with experience in Iraq, described as urban warfare experts, helped advise Israel on “deliberate and precise targeting,” Kirby said en route to Las Vegas.

The time frame for the scaled-back operation Kirby described wasn’t completely clear.

Gaza health officials say at least 17,000 people, including children and civilians, have died in the war between Israel and Hamas following the latter’s Oct. 7 attack. Israel, which said it has all but dismantled Hamas in the north, is now focused on southern Gaza.

It was Israel’s targeting of caravans and hospitals in northern Gaza — military officials said they were used to shroud enemy operations — that prompted calls for a war crime investigation, which is under way.

World Food Programme director describes chaotic scene in Gaza

The World Food Programme’s deputy executive director, Carl Skau, visited Gaza yesterday and he said nothing prepared him for the “fear, the chaos, and the despair” he saw.

“Confusion at warehouses, distribution points with thousands of desperate hungry people, supermarkets with bare shelves, and overcrowded shelters with bursting bathrooms,” Skau said in a statement. “The dull thud of bombs was the soundtrack for our day.”

Skau said one woman told him she lived with nine other families in an apartment where they all took turns sleeping at night because they can’t all lay down at the same time.

Skau’s said his team got stuck at the Rafah crossing at the start of their mission, which he said is “a reminder of how cumbersome it is to get critical aid and staff into Gaza and the critical need for more border crossings.”

The deputy director said he visited WFP staff in Gaza, where the breakdown of law and order prevented any meaningful humanitarian work from taking place. Gazans are desperate and living in packed, unhealthy shelters or on the streets in the cold, and have little food, Skau said.

“A WFP survey taken during the pause in hostilities, showed that Gazans are simply not eating. Nine out of ten families in some areas spent a full day and night without any food at all. When asked how often this happened, they told us that for up to 10 days in the past month, they had not eaten food,” Skau said.

Skau called for more than one crossing and safe passage for Palestinians in order to continue their humanitarian operations, Skau said.

“This will only be possible with a humanitarian ceasefire and ultimately, we need this conflict to end,” he said.

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