An online row has emerged between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Israel after the United Nations health body said the Israeli army ordered it to remove supplies from its warehouse in southern Gaza, a claim Israel then denied.

The “WHO received notification” from the Israeli forces “that we should remove our supplies from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours, as ground operations will put it beyond use”, its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X on Monday.

He appealed to Israel to withdraw the order and take measures to protect infrastructure such as hospitals.

The Israeli army snapped back on Tuesday, saying it never issued such a warning. “The truth is that we didn’t ask you to evacuate the warehouses and we also made it clear [and in writing] to the relevant UN representatives,” COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said on X.

“From a UN official we would expect, at least, to be more accurate,” it added.

“This is a social media row that is burning up and we can expect that it will continue to rumble on,” said Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“We can see that the WHO did take this seriously to start moving stuff out of the warehouse,” our correspondent said, adding that the warehouse services 11 hospitals in southern Gaza, and there were concerns among UN officials that the removal of supplies could lead hospitals in the south to become even more overwhelmed.

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