Thursday, April 25

Israel-Hamas War: Live Updates – The New York Times

A deadly Israeli strike on a World Central Kitchen-led humanitarian convoy in Gaza is already setting back attempts to resolve the food crisis in the territory, with aid groups saying they are being more cautious in their deliveries and at least two have suspended their operations.

Following the attack that killed seven of its employees, World Central Kitchen stopped its work in Gaza and sent three ships carrying hundreds of tons of food back to port in Cyprus. The food was to be unloaded at a makeshift pier in northern Gaza built by the group, which claims to have provided 43 million meals to Gazans since the start of the war.

Gaza faces what United Nations officials say is a man-made humanitarian crisis, as the war and Israeli restrictions on aid have caused a severe famine that experts say is close to famine. The most severe shortages are in northern Gaza, and aid groups say that in the short term at least, the killing of aid workers will only make things worse there.

“Humanitarian organizations are unable to carry out their work safely,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

Another humanitarian group, American Near East Refugee Aid, or Anera, which says it has been intervening in the Palestinian territories for more than 55 years, also announced that it suspend work in Gaza. The United Nations stopped night movements for at least 48 hours starting Tuesday to assess security, the organization’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters, according to Reuters.

The U.N. World Food Program is still functioning today, he said. “As famine approaches, we need humanitarian personnel and supplies to be able to move freely and safely across the Gaza Strip,” he said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The Open Arms, the first ship shipped to Gaza by World Central Kitchen, in Larnaca, Cyprus, on Wednesday.Credit…Petros Karadjias/Associated Press

The World Food Program and UNRWA, the main United Nations agency supporting the Palestinians, have long said they face unacceptable obstacles in delivering aid, including Israeli restrictions on deliveries and lawlessness in northern Gaza.

“Our staff have guided our work, and they themselves feel like they have a target on their backs,” Sandra Rasheed, Anera country director in Gaza and the West Bank, told Al Jazeera.

Michael Capponi, founder of Global Empowerment Mission, a nonprofit humanitarian group, said he was reconsidering plans to travel to Gaza next week. Some staff members “basically want to pack up and go home now,” he said.

Gaza has faced an Israeli blockade for more than a decade, backed by Egypt, but since the war began in October, residents said the amount of food available had declined significantly.

“No aid or anything is reaching us,” Rawan al-Khoudary, who lives in northern Gaza, said in an interview. She said in an interview that her baby, Anwar, died a few weeks ago, partly due to a lack of nutrition. Another northern Gaza resident, Ezzeldine al-Dali, 22, said his family received only one bag of flour in aid, which lasted for a few days.

In recent weeks, the United States, other countries and humanitarian groups have increased pressure on Israel to allow more aid into Gaza, a territory of more than two million people. Israel, which announced the siege of Gaza at the start of the war, says it places no limits on the amount of aid that can be delivered to the territory, but wants to prevent food or other supplies from being released. fall into the hands of Hamas.

Countries including the United States, France, Jordan and Egypt increased their use of airdrops to deliver aid to Gaza, and the World Central Kitchen ships were part of a multinational plan to create a sea route which would allow aid to be delivered from Cyprus. As part of efforts to increase maritime shipping, the US military is building a temporary pier on the Gaza coast, but it will take weeks.

View from inside a C-130 military plane as the Jordanian Air Force drops supplies over northern Gaza last month.Credit…Diego Ibarra Sánchez for the New York Times

The United Nations says the only effective way to sufficiently increase aid is through trucking.

United Nations figures show that the number of aid trucks entering Gaza through the two main crossings, Kerem Shalom and Rafah, both of which are in the southern part of the enclave, increased in March by nearly by 75 percent compared to February.

However, overall, an average of about 117 aid trucks have entered Gaza each day since October 7, a drop of about 75 percent from pre-war figures, according to data from the ‘UN. The World Food Program estimates that 300 food trucks are needed daily to begin meeting the basic food needs of populations.

Despite short-term difficulties, the strike could galvanize efforts for a ceasefire, said Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a former U.N. emergency relief coordinator.

He said it could also push governments to step up efforts to protect aid workers, push for more entry points for aid and speak out more strongly against Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah, the town in southern Gaza where more than a million people have gathered to try to escape the fighting.

Aid workers were among the growing number of victims of Israeli bombings, with 203 dead since the start of the war, most of them Palestinians, according to the Aid Worker Security Database.

“International aid workers have received more attention than the 200 Palestinian aid workers killed previously, which is of course tragic,” Mr Egeland said. “But this could be the watershed moment we were hoping for.”

Hiba Yazbek reports contributed.