Israel shares photo of aid build-up in Gaza, says UN is not distributing it

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Israel’s Coordinated Office of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) accused the United Nations of failing to distribute humanitarian aid to Gazans in a post to X on Saturday showing a build-up of aid on the Gazan side of the territory’s border with Israel.

“Again,” the post reads, “the content of 400 trucks worth [of aid] is waiting to be picked up and distributed from the Gazan side of [the Keren Shalom crossing] post-Israeli inspection.

The post goes on to say that “@UNRWA”—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, responsible for providing social services to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and elsewhere—“and @UN agencies lack the logistic capacity for performing their jobs. “They must enhance their logistic capacity and admit their failures. 

UNRWA, the agency criticized in the post, has been criticized by Israel and allies for years but has come under particular scrutiny since intelligence emerged earlier this year connecting employees of the agency to the October 7 attacks on Israel that initiated the ongoing war with Hamas. 

Israel has called for UNRWA to be defunded, and the United States and several other nations have frozen their donations to the agency in light of the reports.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip drives at the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom crossing, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in southern Israel, March 14, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Recent report warned of famine in Gaza

COGAT’s post comes amid accusations that Israel is obstructing the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, amid conditions, particularly in the north of the strip, that international agencies have said verge on famine. 

A March 18 report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) global initiative said that “famine is imminent in [Gaza’s] northern governorates and [is] projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024” and said the strip’s southern governorates are also at risk of famine in a “worst-case scenario.”

The assessment was based on the acute malnutrition rate, determined by measuring people’s mid-upper arm circumference. Before the outbreak of war, acute malnutrition in northern Gaza stood at 1%, according to the report, but was reported at 12.4-16.5% in February. Among children 6-23 months old, it was estimated at 29.2%. 

The projected famine “can be prevented or alleviated,” the IPC said, but to do so would “require an immediate political decision for a ceasefire together with a significant and immediate increase in humanitarian and commercial access to the entire population of Gaza.” 

Kerem Shalom is the only land crossing to Gaza currently open

The Kerem Shalom crossing, depicted in the photograph shared by COGAT, is the only open land crossing between Israel and Gaza. On Thursday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to “[increase] the capacity and number of land crossing points and [keep] them open for as long as necessary” to ensure the “unhindered provision at scale” of aid to Gazan civilians.

Israeli officials, however, maintain that the problem is not a lack of aid being allowed into Gaza but rather its distribution once inside the strip. Hamas, the jihadist group that governs Gaza and is the target of Israel’s campaign, is known to commandeer the delivery of aid, a phenomenon that Israel points to as a primary reason why civilians are not receiving it. The post on Saturday underscores another accusation by Israel that UN agencies are not capable of distributing the aid already available.

To bypass the bottleneck, foreign nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, Jordan, and France, have begun in recent weeks to drop aid packages over Gaza from the air. The United States has also initiated a project to construct a pier off Gaza’s coast to deliver aid by sea.



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