RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — More than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving due to “woefully insufficient” quantities of food entering the territory ever since Israel’s military responded to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, according to a report released Thursday by the U.N. and other agencies.

The report highlighted the humanitarian crisis in Gaza after more than 10 weeks of relentless bombardment and fighting. The extent of the population’s hunger eclipsed even the near-famines in Afghanistan and Yemen of recent years, according to figures in the report.

“It doesn’t get any worse,’’ said Arif Husain, chief economist for the U.N.’s World Food Program. “I have never seen something at the scale that is happening in Gaza. And at this speed. How quickly it has happened, in just a matter of two months.”

Israel says it is in the final stages of clearing out Hamas militants from northern Gaza, but that months of fighting lie ahead in the south. The war sparked by Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 rampage and hostage-taking in Israel has killed nearly 20,000 Palestinians. Some 1.9 million Gaza residents — more than 80% of the population — have been driven from their homes, with more than a million now cramming into U.N. shelters.

The war has also pushed Gaza’s health sector into collapse. Only nine of its 36 health facilities are still partially functioning — and all are located in the south, the World Health Organization said. WHO relief workers on Thursday reported “unbearable” scenes in two hospitals they visited in northern Gaza: bedridden patients with untreated wounds cry out for water, the few remaining doctors and nurses have no supplies, and bodies are lined up in the courtyard.

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