Israel Tightens Grip on Aid Entering Gaza

by | Mar 12, 2024

Israel Tightens Grip on Aid Entering Gaza

by | Mar 12, 2024

banned items

The head of the UN aid organization for Palestinians, UNRWA, reported that Tel Aviv has rejected aid shipments for Gaza because the supplies included children’s scissors and other life-saving mediations. Israel has used a multitude of tactics to reduce the flow of aid to a trickle, as top UN officials warn of an intentional famine in Gaza. 

On Monday, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini explained that the Israeli restrictions on Gaza are getting even more severe, to the point that child scissors were rejected. “A truck loaded with aid has just been turned back because it had scissors used in children’s medical kits,” he posted on X. “Medical scissors are now added to a long list of banned items the Israeli Authorities classify as ‘for dual use.’”

Aid groups have repeatedly condemned Tel Aviv’s tight restrictions on aid, pointing to its policy of rejecting entire shipments even if one banned item is found. According to Lazzariri, the list of prohibited goods includes “basic and lifesaving items: from anesthetics, solar lights, oxygen cylinders, and ventilators, to water cleaning tablets, cancer medicines, and maternity kits.”

Aid shipments in the Strip have plummeted from 500 to under 100 per day. Tel Aviv has deployed a series of bureaucratic and military obstacles to prevent aid from reaching the starving Palestinians. Israeli officials have blocked aid deliveries from being offloaded at the port while government agencies continue to reject visas for international aid workers. 

Israeli citizens have also helped to block aid shipments by staging large protests at checkpoints, with the military standing by as demonstrators prevent the transit of life-saving aid. Additionally, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have attacked several aid shipments and the police that escort the convoys. 

Michael Fakhri, special UN rapporteur on the right to food, told Mondoweiss that the Strip is now on the brink of famine, also noting the official death toll of 31,000 is an undercount. “We’ve never seen children pushed into malnutrition so quickly. This was all preventable.” He continued, “I have no doubt – and this is again in consultation with experts all over the world – we all have no doubt that the horror, the numbers, the degree of hunger, the degree of death from malnutrition will be higher than we’re able to measure right now.”

Last week, a group of seven UN experts said the famine in Gaza was a deliberate Israeli policy of collective punishment. “Israel has been intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October. Now it is targeting civilians seeking humanitarian aid and humanitarian convoys,” the UN experts said. “Israel must end its campaign of starvation and targeting of civilians.”

While President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated over months that he is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow more assistance into Gaza, less aid has reached the Strip. Rather than use Washington’s substantial leverage over Tel Aviv to reverse course, the White House has resorted to complicated and deadly methods of bringing small amounts of aid into the Strip. 

The US and several other countries have used air drops to get food to starving Gazans. However, people on the ground report the drops are often difficult to access, while a botched airdrop resulted in five people being crushed to death last Friday. 

During his State of the Union address, Biden declared the US would establish a temporary pier allowing aid to reach Gaza via a sea corridor. Tel Aviv says it will only permit the shipments if it has control over the process, all but ensuring Israel will continue severe restrictions on life-saving medicine even if the military can build a functioning dock. 

About Kyle Anzalone

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

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