Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Father and daughter in Gaza City. Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine are growing more dire in Gaza, and further fighting will make them dramatically worse, Matthias Schmale, the Gaza director for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told Axios in a Zoom interview on Tuesday evening.

The state of play: The most urgent problem is the displacement of Palestinians, including the around 50,000 who left their homes near the border with Israel, fearing a ground invasion, and are now taking shelter in 60 UNRWA schools.

“Parents here are mainly worried for the security of their children. People here say that they sleep in the same room with their children so that if they die in an airstrike they will be together. This is what I hear from people. They are terrified and traumatized."
— Matthias Schmale, UNRWA

When the Israeli operation in Gaza started, most markets had food and other supplies for one week, Schmale says. With border crossings now almost completely closed, shortages at grocery stores began to be reported on Tuesday.

  • Fuel shortages were also reported Tuesday, and the Gaza power plant has sufficient fuel for only six hours per day. Israel allowed five trucks with fuel to enter Gaza in order to resupply UNRWA and other UN agencies.
  • Many parts of the Gaza Strip have insufficient supplies of clean water because of the destruction of infrastructure by Israeli airstrikes and because a desalinization plant was damaged, Schmale says.
  • Schmale was briefed by a Gaza Ministry of Health official who told him hospitals were stretched to their limits. If the fighting continues, medical care will collapse, and if the border remains closed, they will run out of medicine, Schmale was told.

There's no distinction between military and civilian areas in Gaza, Schmale says. Hamas fires rockets from residential areas, and Israel — in targeting Hamas — strikes areas that are often densely packed with civilians.

  • The UNRWA official said the Israeli military contacted him several days ago while he was visiting the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City warning him not to leave the hospital because an airstrike would take place imminently nearby.

The movements of UN staff in Gaza are severely limited due to the fighting, and each move must be constantly coordinated with both Hamas and the Israeli military, Schmale says.

  • He has worked in many conflict zones around the world but never witnessed eight days of constant rocket fire and airstrikes.
  • “We don’t have a bomb shelter here, just the blue UN flag on the roof," he said.

Go deeper

May 19, 2021 - World

Israel targets homes of Hamas commanders as Gaza fighting hits day 10

Palestinian Ryad Eshkuntana, checks his daughter Suzy, as they receive medical care at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after his wife and other children were killed in an Israeli air strike. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

The fighting in the Gaza Strip has entered its tenth day with efforts toward a ceasefire ramping up but still yielding little progress.

Why it matters: 219 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, at least half of them civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel is now under growing international pressure to end its operation, including from the Biden administration, Israeli officials say.

May 17, 2021 - World

Biden backs Gaza ceasefire for first time in call with Netanyahu

Biden with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Debbi Hill/Pool/ Getty Images

President Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call on Thursday evening with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.

Why it matters: This is the first time since the beginning of the crisis last Monday that Biden or anyone in his administration has publicly backed a ceasefire. It will increase pressure on Israel to seek an end to the conflict, which Netanyahu has insisted will continue until Hamas' ability to attack Israel is further degraded.

Updated May 20, 2021 - World

In photos: Israel-Hamas aerial bombardments continue as ceasefire calls grow

Smoke billows following an Israeli airstrike at Gaza City on May 20. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

Fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas entered an 11th day Thursday, as international calls grow for a ceasefire following the worst violence to hit the region since 2014.

What's happening: Israeli warplanes again "pounded Gaza overnight" and Hamas rockets hit "at least two" Israeli cities, the Washington Post reports. No rockets were launched from Gaza for roughly eight hours, but sirens warning of rockets in Israel resumed about 9:30am Thursday local time, per Wash Post.