UN says Israel is holding back food for 1.1 million Gazans

The United Nations expressed deep concern at Israel preventing food arriving to a significant number of Gazans, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Some Israeli civilians have taken matters into their own hands as recently, shocking clips of them blocking aid convoys from entering Gaza have gone viral on social media. 

On February 9, Israel imposed financial sanctions on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main agency assisting desperate Palestinians, following allegations that 12 of the organisation’s employees were involved in Hamas’ assault on the country in October. 

This has led to a suspension of aid to the UNRWA by ten countries including the US and UK as an investigation is being conducted on the matter. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged the countries withdrawing such aid to rethink as the move has been considered as an act of collective punishment against an already-marginalised Palestinian people. 

9 of the agency’s 30,000 employees, 13,000 of whom are based in the war-torn Gaza, have been dismissed over the aforementioned accusations. 

READ: Red Cross voices concerns over hunger in Gaza

Following the sackings, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini justified the reason behind such an action as opposed to a suspension, saying, “Knowing that the organisation is under fierce and ugly attacks, I could not take the risk, I could have suspended them but I fired them.” 

In a derogatory reference to the UNRWA, far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has in the past gone as far as denying the existence of a Palestinian people, wrote on X (previously Twitter) on February 8, “The state of Israel will not give tax benefits to terrorist aides.” 

Lazzarini noted on February 9 that a convoy of food donated by Turkey has been left stagnant in the port city of Ashdod (situated in southern Israel). 

Israel’s obstructive measures has resulted in roughly 1,050 shipping containers of rice, flour and pasta amongst other basic foods not getting into the enclave. The shipment would be enough to feed 1.1 million people for around a month. 

Studies have shown that nearly all the 2.2 million-strong Gazan population, 1.8 million of whom have been displaced due to the pummeling, face worrying food insecurity and 25% of households face famine-like conditions. 


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