Israel blocking more food than other aid in hunger-stalked Gaza: UN

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Israel is blocking far more convoys carrying food aid within Gaza, where famine is looming, than convoys carrying other kinds of aid, the UN said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the United Nations’ humanitarian agency pointed to statistics from March showing that it was much more difficult to get clearance for delivering food than other aid in the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.

“Food convoys that should be going particularly to the north, where 70 percent of people face famine conditions, are... three times more likely to be denied than any other humanitarian convoys with other kinds of material,” Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

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Israel is facing mounting international pressure to allow more aid into Gaza, which is facing a humanitarian catastrophe six months into the war that erupted after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack inside Israel.

Israel meanwhile charges that the main problem is with UN aid distribution within Gaza.

COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body that manages the flow of aid, said Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter, that “741 humanitarian aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip over the last 2 days.”

“Only 267 aid trucks were distributed by UN aid agencies inside Gaza (out of which 146 carried food),” it said.

“The aid is available, distribution is what matters.”


Laerke said such comparisons were “meaningless” for a number of reasons.

He pointed out that the trucks screened by COGAT were “typically only half-full. That is a requirement that they have put in place for screening purposes.”

The trucks are then reloaded, filling them up fully, before moving on to the warehouses.

“Already there, the numbers will never match up,” Laerke said.

He also insisted that “counting day to day and comparing makes little sense because it does not take into account the delays that happen at the crossing and the further movement to warehouses.”

He pointed to delays linked to the crossing point opening hours and the fact that Israel has barred Egyptian drivers and trucks from being in the same area at the same time as Palestinian drivers and trucks.

“That means there’s not a smooth handover,” Laerke said.

The main problem though was then getting authorization and assurances that aid distribution can go ahead unimpeded, he said.

While Israel complains about UN distribution, “half of the convoys that we were trying to send to the north with food (in March) were denied by the very same Israeli authorities.”

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Laerke stressed that “the obligation is on the warring parties, and in particular... on Israel as the occupying power of Gaza, to facilitate and ensure humanitarian access does not stop at the border.”

“It also pertains to movements inside Gaza.”

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