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20:28

21 JUL 2024

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  • Uri Pilichowski

While Palestinians Starve, Is Israel Allowing Aid Into Gaza?

There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that has come in tandem with Israel’s war against Hamas. The question is, what is the root cause? Is it Hamas’ aggression towards Israel on October 7? Is it UN corruption and inepititeude? Is Israel even allowing enough aid through and if it is is it falling into the hands of Hamas terrorists?



Aid being prepared for gaza

  • There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza are lacking basic necessities like food, water, and medical supplies. 


  • The United States and the global community have placed sending aid into Gaza a top priority since the start of the war. 


  • Israel facilitates the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt. 


  • There are strong questions surrounding the agencies distributing the aid and their ability to ensure the food gets to the Gazans who need the aid the most.


  • Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza are stealing the aid after it crosses into Gaza. 


 

What Has Israel’s War Done to The Existing Humanitarian Crises In Gaza?


United Nations Security Council Resolution 2720, adopted on December 22, 2023, called for increased aid for the 2023 Gaza humanitarian crisis. A section of the resolution expressed deep concern for “the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and its grave impact on the civilian population, underlining the urgent need for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip, and taking note of the concerning reports from the leadership of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations in this regard, reaffirming its strong concern for the disproportionate effect that the conflict is having on the lives and well-being of children, women, and other civilians in vulnerable situations, and stressing the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence…”


According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, there is a risk of famine in Gaza and it is increasing each day that the current situation of intense hostilities and restricted humanitarian access persists or worsens. The intensification of the hostilities resulting in the further reduction in access to food, basic services, and lifesaving assistance along with the extreme concentration or isolation of people in inadequate shelters or areas without basic services are major factors that contribute to increasing this risk. Between 24 November and 7 December, over 90 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip (about 2.08 million people) was estimated to face high levels of acute food insecurity, classified in IPC Phase 3 or above (crisis or worse). Among these, over 40 percent of the population (939,000 people) were in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and over 15 percent (378,000 people) were in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).


In remarks to the United Nations Security Council UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said, “More aid is urgently needed in Gaza to save lives and stem the torrent of human suffering. Unimpeded access of humanitarian workers and of supplies, including sexual and reproductive health services, is a matter of life and death for women and girls.”



Today’s Humanitarian Crises In Gaza Is a Continuation of Pre-War Conditions


The true population numbers of Gaza have been the source of dispute for decades. According to Demographia, parts of Palestinian-controlled Gaza are one of the most densely populated places on earth. The area around Gaza City houses almost 2 million people in an 88-square-mile expanse, which is about 21,000 people per square mile. Around Gaza City, the population density is over 500 people per 100 square meters, and the numbers are consistent with high density in other big Gaza cities like Khan Yunis and the Nuseirat refugee camp.


Other demographers take a different approach. Population density is measured according to population size relative to the area of a given territory. In the Gaza Strip, there are approximately 2 million residents, in an area that spans 365 square kilometers. Quick calculations peg Gaza’s population density at 5,479 people per square kilometer – roughly the density of London. They claim that while the Gaza Strip is certainly a densely populated area, it does not even crack the top 100 most densely populated areas or cities in the world. 


Prior to the current hostilities, 1.2 million of Gaza’s 2.2 million people were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity, and over 80 percent were reliant on humanitarian aid. The electric supply in Gaza was commonly reduced to four hours per day, and at a high level, 8 hours per day. There was a 42% unemployment rate in Gaza. 80% of the population in Gaza relied on international food aid to survive. Since the start of hostilities, the humanitarian crisis has gotten worse. 



Increasing Humanitarian Aid to Gaza Is a Top Priority For The International Community


In a post on “X” on December 8, 2023, President Biden wrote, “I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan today to discuss the latest developments in Gaza, reiterating my commitment to increasing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.” His remarks were consistent with America’s focus on increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza since the start of the war. Barak Ravid reported that American officials have been pushing Israel to allow high levels of aid to enter Gaza; levels equal to the amounts that came through during the Israel-Hamas temporary ceasefire. 


It isn’t just America that is pushing for more aid for Gaza. On October 26, 2023, the European Union adopted conclusions that called for “continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs.” The EU will provide an additional €25 million in humanitarian aid, increasing its annual giving to over €100 million for Gaza this year. 


United Nations Security Council Resolution 2720 included text that “Reaffirms the obligations of the parties to the conflict under international humanitarian law regarding the provision of humanitarian assistance, demands that they allow, facilitate and enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Gaza Strip, and in this regard calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”



Israel Facilitates The Transfer of Goods to Gaza


One of the most often heard talking points of the war in Gaza is that Israel is stopping the flow of goods and humanitarian aid into Gaza. Human Rights Watch wrote, “The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the occupied Gaza Strip, which is a war crime. Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to their survival.” 


A further evaluation of the situation strongly indicates that Human Rights Watch’s accusations against Israel and other accusations made against Israel aren’t consistent with the reality on the ground in Gaza according to Israel. Since the beginning of the war, 96,480 tons of humanitarian aid have entered the Gaza Strip. 5,454 trucks bearing aid have entered the Gaza Strip. In one week in mid-December alone, 912 trucks entered the Gaza Strip bearing humanitarian aid for Palestinian Gazans. 


Humanitarian aid including food, water, medical supplies, and shelter equipment is routed to Egypt and then forwarded to undergo Israeli security screenings at either Nitzana or Kerem Shalom Crossings. From there, UN aid is sent to the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom and the rest is sent to Gaza via the Rafah crossing in Egypt. The volume of humanitarian aid is determined, among other factors, by the ability of humanitarian organizations within the Gaza Strip to absorb the aid.

 


Is Humanitarian Aid Being Handled Properly by The United Nations?


If humanitarian aid is being transferred at high rates into the Gaza Strip every day, and Israel is facilitating the transfer of humanitarian aid, why do the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations insist there is a humanitarian crisis and Palestinian Gazans require even more aid? If sufficient aid is being transferred into the Gaza Strip, why aren’t the Palestinian Gazans receiving enough aid?


In a meeting with French Senate President Gérard Larcher, Israeli President Isaac Herzog claimed that the United Nations has been failing to keep up with the amount of aid Israel is inspecting and that the world body is to blame for the little amount of aid entering the Strip even after Israel has opened up its Kerem Shalom crossing to ease the bottleneck. Herzog said, “Unfortunately, due to the utter failure of the UN in its work with other partners in the region, they have been unable to bring in more than 125 trucks of aid a day. Today it is possible to provide three times the amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza if the UN — instead of complaining all day — would do its job.”


The United Nations agencies in Gaza are often accused of being unable to properly provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians claim the United Nations workers are corrupt and inept. A recent report out of Gaza cited a low-level UNRWA employee as saying he was “shocked by the amount of food, cleaning materials, mattresses, and tents ready, in large numbers, piling up in the warehouses.” Videos have spread on social media of Gazans looting stockpiles of supplies in UN warehouses. Many question how the United Nations can simultaneously claim there is a humanitarian crisis while stockpiling food instead of distributing it to those in need. 



Hamas Steals Food Meant For Palestinians


During a November 9, 2023, briefing, Gaza Interior Ministry Spokesman Iyad al Bozum (a Hamas operative who in the past has been the spokesman explaining why Hamas was executing Palestinian Gazans for spying for Israel) was interrupted with open chanting against Hamas. It was an unprecedented protest (the protestor hasn’t been seen since his outburst) for the Gaza Strip, where criticism of Hamas is a capital offense. Many understood this protest to be a sign of how fed-up Palestinian Gazans were with Hamas’s constant theft of humanitarian aid meant for needy Gazans. 


Hamas members can often be seen on videos released by the Israel Defense Forces and media outlets hijacking aid trucks after they’ve crossed into Gaza. These same videos show Hamas members attacking Palestinian civilians trying to receive aid meant for them, and stealing the food. This aid is driven from the Gaza border to humanitarian zones where Hamas has previously agreed not to operate. 



Conclusion: Israel delivers aid, the United Nations and Hamas are Creating a Crisis


While Israel has consistently placed facilitating aid for Gazans arranged by the United Nations, European Union, and the United States as a priority, aid is being hindered by forces outside of Israel’s control. The needy Gazans require humanitarian aid, but a combination of United Nations corruption and ineffectiveness along with Hamas theft is preventing the humanitarian aid from getting to those who need it most.   


 

Sources





United Nations Population Fund, Crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory, November 29, 2023


Demographia, DEMOGRAPHIA WORLD URBAN AREAS, August 2023



Israel Defense and Security Forum, Is Gaza Really the Most Densely Populated Place in the World? November 15, 2023


Human Rights Watch, Israel: Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza, December 18, 2023



POTUS Twitter, December 8, 2023



European Commission, EU increases humanitarian aid to Gaza by €25 million, November 6, 2023



Human Rights Watch, Israel: Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza, December 18, 2023


Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, Swords of Iron Humanitarian Efforts, December 23, 2023





Gaza Report, November 9, 2023


 
Uri Pilichowski

Uri Pilichowski


Uri Pilichowski is an author, speaker, and senior educator at institutions around the world. 

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