Palestinian Territory - Israel continues to obstruct the entry and distribution of basic humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip, especially the Gaza City and North Gaza governorates, threatening to exacerbate and deepen the widespread famine there. These two governorates house at least 300,000 people, according to United Nations estimates.

Israel’s restriction of humanitarian access into the Gaza Strip, particularly the Strip’s northern parts, and its impeding the timely delivery of life-saving food supplies is drastically worsening the already-dire food insecurity faced by the Palestinian population there. This puts them at risk of death from starvation, particularly given the rise in the number of children dying from acute malnutrition, hunger, and related diseases—28 children have died from hunger and malnutrition alone.

The Israeli authorities continue to impede the entry of humanitarian aid into the Strip via the land crossings, ensuring that aid cannot enter in a timely, efficient, and systematic manner. Israel is also imposing additional restrictions on distribution and delivery operations following the entry of aid into the enclave, and specifically obstructing its entry and distribution into the northern areas of the Strip on a nearly-daily basis. This is particularly problematic in light of the Israeli military’s ongoing attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp, which started two days ago and is expected to worsen the situation, and its potential attack on Rafah.

Israel continues to violate its international obligations—including its obligations as an occupying power—as well as the 28 March ruling of the International Court of Justice requiring it to take the necessary and effective steps and work with the UN to guarantee that humanitarian aid reaches the Strip without hindrance or delay, in order to fulfill its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Additionally, Israel is breaking UN Security Council Resolution No. 2728, which was adopted on 25 March and states that all obstacles preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza Strip residents must be removed; it also calls to increase the amount of aid flowing and improve residents’ safety. Israel has not made any effort to alter its illegal policies or arbitrary measures to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and ensure its safe and prompt arrival, particularly to the northern regions. Israel persists in its crime of starving the Strip’s civilian population despite all of these legally binding international resolutions and the obligations placed upon it.

Israel has allowed 169 aid trucks to cross daily into Gaza via the Kerem Abu Slem/Kerem Shalom crossing and the Rafah land crossing since early April. This is still far less than the 500 trucks per day that were entering the Strip prior to 7 October, as well as the operational capacity of both border crossings. Humanitarian aid entering at this rate portends a real catastrophe and further widespread hunger, which has already caused residents to lose unhealthy amounts of weight and risk their lives by waiting for aid trucks near Israeli checkpoints, which have become death points, as hungry crowds of civilians are frequently targeted by the Israeli military.

Despite the fact that there has been no real progress made, Israel has been claiming for weeks that there has been a change in the amount of aid entering the Strip, in accordance with the terms of the United States agreement as well as data Israel has provided to the UN Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory. However, no real action has been taken. The number of trucks permitted to enter the Strip, particularly Gaza City and North Gaza, remain unaltered. Moreover, the Erez/Beit Hanoun checkpoint in the north of Gaza remains closed, and contrary to reports by the Israeli media, the port of Ashdod has been utilised to transport humanitarian aid into the Strip.

Since Israel officially decided to cut off food and water for Gaza Strip residents, there have been ministers in the Israeli government who have openly stated that starvation and aid must be used as a tool of pressure, blackmail, and weaponry in the current military attacks, now ongoing for seven consecutive months.

Reports of an increase in the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip are insufficient on their own, particularly when bearing in mind the staggering—and growing—needs of the Strip’s residents.

Israel must end its crime of starvation against the people of the Strip and ensure that humanitarian aid is able to enter periodically on a permanent basis, and in an amount that satisfies the Palestinian population’s needs, regardless of Israeli accounts and conditions. Additional efforts must also be made to secure the work of humanitarian crews distributing this aid, the safety of the civilians receiving it, and to guarantee its flow to North Gaza as swiftly as possible.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator overseeing crisis relief in Gaza, recently declared that, “[T]he situation for Gazans remains dire despite hopes stemming from recent commitments by Israel to boost assistance.”

Meanwhile, Jens Laerke, Spokesperson for the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA), recently said that “UN-coordinated food convoys are three times more likely to be denied access to north Gaza than other aid convoys.”

 

According to a recent OCHA report, access into Gaza is characterised by “lengthy inspection processes, fuel shortages resulting from Israeli restrictions, and restrictions on the movement of trucks, convoys, and vetted drivers…and congestion at the Kerem Shalom crossing,” while the entry of humanitarian assistance and commercial goods directly into northern Gaza, where 70 per cent of the populated is projected to be at risk of famine between mid-March and mid-July 2024, remains extremely limited.

The report underlines that within Gaza, only 26 per cent of planned food missions to high-risk areas requiring coordination with Israeli authorities were facilitated; 51 per cent were either denied or impeded; and 23 per cent were postponed or withdrawn due to “security concerns” or “operational constraints”.

There are only three roads that Israel permits humanitarian relief convoys to use to reach the northern Gaza Strip: the military road on the eastern side of Gaza, the coastal Rashid Road, and the central Salah al-Din Road. What is much less widely documented is that the UN has two or three roads running simultaneously as well, and that these roads are “in very poor condition” and do not provide any security guarantees.

UNICEF said 10 April that one of its vehicles was hit by “live ammunition” while waiting at an Israeli checkpoint set up on Salah al-Din Road to deliver life-saving aid to northern Gaza, including therapeutic food for children at risk of malnutrition and preventable mortality.

Along the same line, Oxfam recently reported that people in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of just 245 calories a day since January. Over 300,000 people are still believed to be trapped there now, unable to leave and surviving on less than 12 per cent of the average daily caloric needs. Gaza is a death trap for children.

Thirty Palestinians, mostly children, have died in hospitals from malnutrition and dehydration; however, Euro-Med Monitor’s estimates suggest that the number of hunger victims is much higher. This is due to a lack of clear mechanisms to track deaths related to the issue, plus the collapse of the health system in the northern section of the Strip, where victims continue to fall, including as a result of Israeli bombing, and are buried by their families without official registration.

In light of the aforementioned, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor urges, among other recommendations, the international community to uphold its legal and moral duties to the people living in the Gaza Strip. The international community must guarantee that the International Court of Justice ruling is carried out, and end the genocide that the Court declared in January was likely taking place in the Gaza Strip. Euro-Med Monitor calls on all States to fulfill their international obligations by halting all military, financial, and political support for Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip, and in particular, all arms transfers to Israel.

International pressure must be applied to Israel immediately in order to prevent it from carrying out its crime of starving the people of the Gaza Strip; force Israel to lift the siege entirely; establish the necessary systems to guarantee the safe, efficient, and timely delivery of humanitarian supplies; and take decisive action against the rapidly-spreading famine among Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.