Israel Bars UNRWA Aid Shipment to Northern Gaza as Region Nears Famine

by | Mar 24, 2024

Israel Bars UNRWA Aid Shipment to Northern Gaza as Region Nears Famine

by | Mar 24, 2024

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The head of the UN aid agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) said that Israel barred all shipments of assistance to northern Gaza. The international watchdog on food crisis warned that famine will be official in northern Gaza in the coming weeks. 

On Sunday, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Tel Aviv has made clear that the agency would no longer be allowed to deliver aid to northern Gaza. “Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to the north,” He posted on X. “This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.”

Lazzarini explained that Israel rejected two UNRWA shipments to northern Gaza last week, and the agency has been unable to get Tel Aviv’s approval for a shipment to the region during the past two months.

The international watchdog for food insecurity, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), released a new report on Monday saying famine in Gaza will begin within the next two months. For a famine to be declared, at least two per 10,000 people must be dying of deprivation per day. 

“The latest evidence confirms that Famine is imminent in the northern governorates of the Gaza Strip and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024,” the IPC report found. “The entire population in the Gaza Strip (2.23 million) is facing high levels of acute food insecurity. This includes half of the population in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe), an increase of 530,000 people (92 percent) from the previous analysis.

UNRWA has the largest distribution network and humanitarian infrastructure in Gaza. “UNRWA is the largest organization with the highest reach to displaced communities in Gaza.” Lazzarini’s post continued, “By preventing UNRWA fulfilling its mandate in Gaza, the clock will tick faster towards famine, and many more will die of hunger, dehydration, and lack of shelter.”

Tel Aviv and Washington have sought to constrain the aid agency as a humanitarian nightmare is worsening. In January, Israel claimed that members of UNRWA took part in the October 7 attack and that thousands of UNRWA employees had links to Hamas. 

While Israel produced no evidence to back its assertions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken labeled the accusations “highly, highly credible,” and the US cut funding for UNRWA. On Saturday, a $1.2 trillion spending bill was approved by Congress that prohibits Washington from funding the Palestinian aid agency. 

The Israeli accusations against UNRWA have faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks as employees of the aid agency said they were tortured into falsely stating there were ties between the organization and Hamas. 

“Some of our staff have conveyed to UNRWA teams that they were forced to (make) confessions under torture and ill-treatment. These false confessions were in response to questioning about relations between UNRWA and Hamas and involvement in the 7 October attack against Israel,” UNRWA spokeswoman Juliette Touma said in a statement.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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