As hunger deaths rise in Gaza, Israel continues to block aid

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 20 people have died due to malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to obstruct or block aid that is urgently needed by the people of the besieged territory

March 06, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinians wait for relief in Gaza in February. Photo: Yasser Qudih/Xinhua

On the 152nd day of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, the territory’s Health Ministry said the death toll from malnutrition and dehydration had risen to 20.

The ministry noted that “the famine is deepening and will claim thousands of lives if the aggression is not halted and humanitarian and medical aid is not immediately brought in.” It also accused Israel of deliberately” starving thousands of people in northern Gaza and urged the international community and the UN to stop the war and avoid a “health catastrophe.”

Calls from the international community to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza continue to grow louder and more urgent. However, Israel has refused to heed these calls. The UN’s World Food Programme said on Wednesday that Israeli forces turned back a 14-truck convoy carrying food aid to northern Gaza. The trucks were blocked after a three-hour wait at the checkpoint.

The WFP added that while the trucks were being rerouted, they were stopped by starving Palestinians who managed to obtain about 200 tonnes of aid, with the WFP forced to distribute the rest of the aid by airdropping it wit the help of the Jordanian air force to around 20,000 people in Northern Gaza. The WFP also said as a result, it has been “largely unsuccessful” in resuming aid deliveries to Northern Gaza. WFP’s deputy director, Carl Skau, in a statement said that “Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. We need entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need.” The Palestinian foreign ministry has called on Israel to open all entry points/border crossings for aid to be delivered to Gaza.

Additionally, reports on Wednesday noted that a large shipment of flour from the United States has been stalled for the last 46 days despite the US and Israel agreeing on a new mechanism to deliver aid to Gaza. The aid, which could feed 1.5 million Palestinians for 5 months, has been kept blocked by Israel without any specific reasons, according to a US government official. The aid in question was earlier blocked in the month of February by Israeli far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who opposed it being distributed by UNRWA, labeling them as part of Hamas’ “war machine.” It was later agreed that the aid would be delivered through the World Food Programme but it continues to be blocked. Similarly, Israel has also reportedly blocked a consignment of aid consisting of around 1,400 water filters that was provided by the United Kingdom.

The total death toll in Gaza since the Israeli war began has risen to at least 30,717, with at least 72,156 Palestinians suffering injuries.