Catholic Relief Services on Saturday called for “immediate humanitarian access” in the Gaza Strip as the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas continues to unfold after Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel earlier this month.
The Baltimore-based aid group said in its Oct. 14 statement that it is “alarmed at the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza” and asked for aid access “before a dire humanitarian situation becomes a catastrophe.”
“Civilians in Gaza are entitled to safety and protection, whether in the north or south,” the group said. “We also urge international stakeholders to work towards a cease-fire and an end to the violence that has killed more than 3,000 people.”
“We join Pope Francis’ call for people worldwide ‘to pray that there be peace in Israel and Palestine,’” CRS said.
CRS in its statement noted that nearly 1 million people, “almost half the population,” are “at risk of displacement” following Israel’s directive for people to evacuate the northern part of Gaza.
“Prior to the order, over 400,000 Palestinians were already displaced,” the group said. “Many who are sick, disabled, injured, or otherwise vulnerable are unable to comply with this order.”
“Electricity has been cut off, and critical supplies such as food, fuel, and water are running dangerously low, and in some areas have run out completely.”
Hamas’ surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,300 Israelis and international civilians. Israel subsequently declared war and vowed a siege of the Gaza Strip. The death toll in Gaza stood at approximately 2,700 people as of Monday, according to the BBC.
Of growing international concern has been the ongoing hostage crisis in the conflict. The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that at least 199 Israelis had been abducted by Hamas since the start of the war. Hamas threatened last week to kill one hostage every time Israel’s military bombs civilian targets in Gaza “without warning.”
The hostage crisis has drawn international backlash, including from Pope Francis, who last Wednesday appealed for the immediate release of the hostages.