Israel-Hamas conflict: IDF explains why it's rebuffing calls for 'humanitarian pause', Kiwi UN worker in Gaza says 'there is no place that is safe'

  • 28/10/2023

Israel has rejected calls for respite in Gaza despite countries including New Zealand urging a "humanitarian pause". 

The Israel Defence Force on Saturday morning (NZ time) expanded its ground operations in Gaza, with troops entering the enclave for a second night. 

CNN reported there was an extensive series of explosions in Gaza City, with outgoing tank fire and unusual, intense and sustained military activity in the past few hours. 

On Friday night, before that incursion began, Newshub Nation spoke to Mjr Libby Weiss - a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Force in Tel Aviv. 

She explained why Israel was opposed to a humanitarian pause. 

"We are facilitating the entrance of humanitarian aid that is coming in," Weiss told Newshub Nation host Rebecca Wright.  

"But I think it's understandable that we... don't want to allow Hamas to have assets that they need to continue to launch terror against Israelis. 

"We have a very clear mission and we cannot allow Hamas any time to reorganise - to regather themselves - because we have seen what they will do." 

The calls for a humanitarian pause came after days of intense diplomacy and was a compromise between those who have said Israel had a right to defend itself and others wanting to push for a ceasefire. 

Israel has said Hamas killed some 1400 people and taken another 200 hostages since its rampage on October 7. The Gaza health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said retaliatory airstrikes have killed more than 7300. 

The conditions in Gaza were "terrible", said Kiwi Hector Sharp, the head of legal at the UN Relief and Works Agency in the enclave. 

"We have over half a million internally displaced persons... sheltering in our facilities and we're unable to provide them with their basic needs," he told Newshub Nation. "We have, also, another 1.5 million in the community that are trying to find places to shelter. 

"There is no place that is safe, so that's the safety situation." 

About 14 aid trucks per day had gone into Gaza in the past few days, down from 500 a day before the conflict unfolded, Sharpe said on Friday. 

But Israel has accused Hamas of diverting aid to its fighters. 

"Of course, we will facilitate the movement of goods into the civilians within the Gaza strip but Hamas, in no way, can expect to have a break," Weiss said. 

'Significant humanitarian crisis' 

Sharp highlighted how fuel was in critically short supply and being rationed in Gaza, compounding aid relief efforts. 

He said poor sanitation, overcrowding and the lack of supplies were turning the situation into a "significant humanitarian crisis". 

"We're at a crisis point where if we don't get fuel in the next hours, we will be in a position where we... the UN won't be able to offer the services that it needs for the people here." 

He doesn't know what will happen if fuel runs out. 

"We just have to hope we do not reach that point and... I believe when we reach that point, the world will sit up and say, 'Oh, yes, now we'll send fuel' - but it will take days to organise and that will be too late."  

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