Charities call for Israel-Hamas de-escalation as they claim ambulances bombed

UK aid charities have called for urgent de-escalation in the conflict in Israel and Gaza, amid claims ambulances carrying the injured have been hit by air strikes.

Save the Children UK said its teams and their families in Gaza are “terrified” and humanitarian access is “desperately needed”.

Another charity, Islamic Relief, called for an urgent ceasefire to prevent more civilian suffering, and said getting food, medical supplies and fuel into Gaza alongside humanitarian aid is now vital.

Palestinian militant group Hamas – which is banned as a terrorist group by the UK Government – sent fighters across the border to Israel and fired thousands of rockets in an unprecedented attack on Saturday.

Israel has now sealed the Gaza Strip off from food, fuel, medicine and other supplies while launching retaliatory air strikes on the Hamas-ruled territory, which is home to 2.3 million people.

A spokesperson for Islamic Relief stationed in Gaza said: “The bombs are falling constantly all around us and the situation here is terrifying. Our homes are shaking due to the intensity of the bombing and children are crying and screaming throughout the night.

“The death toll is rising by the hour and hospitals, schools and mosques have all been hit. Even ambulances carrying injured people have been bombed.”

The spokesperson said hospitals are completely overwhelmed with casualties, including many young children, and doctors are running out of medical supplies and the electricity needed for operations.

They added: “Civilians are the ones suffering, and people will suffer even more now that Israel has announced it’s completely shutting off all supplies of food, fuel and other essentials.”

James Denselow, head of conflict and humanitarian advocacy at Save the Children UK, condemned the violence against children across the region as “widespread and completely unacceptable”.

He said: “The killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on their schools and hospitals are all defined by the UN as grave violations, and those responsible should be held to account for their actions.

“Our teams and their families on the ground in Gaza are terrified; there are no safe places to go. Humanitarian access, through safe and secure routes, to get to children is desperately needed.”

Hamas has pledged to kill captured Israeli hostages if retaliatory air strikes hit civilians in Gaza without warnings.

Mr Denselow added: “The only way to truly protect children’s lives is to prioritise policies of de-escalation aimed at ending violence.

“With the humanitarian situation sadly deteriorating, our teams are sheltering in place preparing when able, ready to support those impacted by this conflict.”

The British Red Cross said its staff and volunteers had been working round the clock to respond to urgent needs, including treating casualties, and were ready to provide further assistance on both sides.

Medical Aid for Palestinians, which provides locally led healthcare services in the region, said it was “deeply concerned” about the prospect for massive displacement of Palestinians out of Gaza and into Egypt, and called for the establishment of safe zones inside of Gaza.

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