UN refugee chief warns military escalation will be ‘catastrophic’ for Gaza’s people

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Any escalation of military activities in the Gaza Strip will be “catastrophic” for people there, the UN high commissioner for refugees said Friday.

“(I) can tell you with certainty that any further escalation or even continuation of military activities will just be catastrophic for the people of Gaza,” Filippo Grandi told reporters in Japan.

While stressing that refugee agency UNHCR has no formal mandate in the Palestinian Territories or Israel, Grandi said that he “shares the extreme worry and anguish that has been expressed by many of my colleagues including the UN secretary general” about the conflict.

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He also called the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7 “appalling” and said that the consequences of the conflict spreading into Lebanon and elsewhere would be “incalculable.”

International aid piled up Friday near Gaza, with Palestinians in dire need of food and water.

Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials. Israel says around 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed in clashes before its army regained control of the area under attack.

At least 3,785 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in relentless Israeli bombardments in retaliation for the attacks by the Palestinian militant group, according to the latest toll from the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

The United Nations says more than one million of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced and that the humanitarian situation is worsening by the day.

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