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Gaza approaches 'point of no return'

Maan News Agency

In the two months since Israel began bombarding and laying total siege to Gaza, around 85%of the 2.3 million people who live in the coastal enclave have been displaced from their homes, according to the UN. More than 17,000 people have been killed—around 70% of them women and children—and many others are missing and presumed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings, according to the Gaza Health Ministry; the enclave's healthcare system is barely functional; and a rapid food security assessment found that nearly everyone now goes to bed hungry, and most have gone entire days without food. An Israeli ground invasion, which began Oct. 27 and is expanding into southern Gaza, is squeezing hundreds of thousands of displaced into smaller and smaller areas. Humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza have essentially ground to a halt, and UN officials have repeatedly warned that nowhere is safe. Amid these extreme conditions, "civil order is breaking down," the Gaza director of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned, while Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA's commissioner-general, said: "We are reaching the point of no return."

From The New Humanitarian, Dec. 8 (condensed)