An online row broke out between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Israel after the United Nations health agency said the Israeli army had ordered it to remove supplies from its camp in the southern Gaza Strip, a claim Israel then denied.

The “WHO has received notification from the Israeli Defense Forces that we should remove our supplies from our medical camp in the southern Gaza Strip within 24 hours as ground operations would render it unusable,” its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X Monday .

He called on Israel to withdraw the order and take measures to protect infrastructure such as hospitals.

The Israeli army fired back sharply on Tuesday, saying it had never issued such a warning. “The truth is that we did not ask you to clear the camps and we made it clear [and in writing] to the relevant UN representatives,” said COGAT, the Israel Defense Ministry’s body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, on X.

“We would expect at least a more precise statement from a UN official,” it continued.

“This is a social media argument that is brewing and we can expect it to continue to simmer,” Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher said, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“We can see that the WHO took this seriously when they started removing things from the camp,” our correspondent said, adding that the camp serves 11 hospitals in southern Gaza and raised concerns among UN officials There were reports that the removal of supplies could lead to hospitals in the south becoming even more overwhelmed.

“This could lead to a major diplomatic dispute,” he noted.

The WHO, like other UN organizations, has repeatedly called on Israel to limit its use of force to avoid attacks on civilians and medical facilities during its military offensive in Gaza.

“Nowhere in Gaza is a safe place”

Meanwhile, Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories, warned on Monday that “an even more hellish scenario lies ahead in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond,” adding that “the conditions are in place to “There is no help for the people in Gaza.”

Since the end of a seven-day ceasefire, Israeli forces have pushed into southern Gaza, forcing “tens of thousands… into ever-cramped spaces in a desperate search for food, water, shelter and safety,” Hastings said in a statement. “Nowhere in Gaza is safe and there is no place left to go.”

After Hamas launched an attack in southern Israel on October 7 that killed more than 1,100 people, Israel bombed the Gaza Strip, killing more than 15,900 Palestinians, including 6,600 children. Entire neighborhoods were pulverized; Around 1.9 million people, more than 80 percent of the population, fled their homes.

The WHO has recorded an unprecedented number of attacks on the Strip’s health system, including 203 on hospitals, ambulances, medical supplies and the detention of health workers.

“Influx of Bodies”

After concentrating most of its air and ground attacks on the northern Gaza Strip for more than a month, the Israeli army announced the expansion of its operations southward over the weekend following the collapse of the ceasefire. The move sparked widespread concern among health authorities, who fear a further worsening of the already catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

“We are being inundated with an influx of corpses,” Munir al-Bursh, the director general of Gaza’s Ministry of Health, told Al Jazeera on Monday, describing a collapsed health system unable to meet the population’s needs amid acute shortages to satisfy staff and medical supplies.

Areas in the south are crowded with civilians who escaped the bombardment in the north after following Israeli evacuation orders that designated the southern Gaza Strip as a safe space. But with this area now under heavy bombardment and tanks approaching the southern capital, Khan Younis, civilians describe a great sense of fear and frustration about where to go next.

The WHO warned in a statement that the intensification of military ground operations in Khan Younis “is likely to cut off thousands of health services, particularly from the region’s two main hospitals, as the number of wounded and sick rises.”

In the south, the UN agency estimates that thousands of people are currently staying at the Nasser Medical Complex and another 70,000 at the 370-bed European Gaza Hospital.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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