Humanitarian crisis worsens in Gaza as Israeli offensive halts aid flow, UN warns of mass hunger

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the primary provider of aid to Palestinians in Gaza, announced on Thursday that food distribution in the southern city of Rafah has been suspended due to a lack of supplies and insecurity caused by the Israeli offensive.

The already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is rapidly deteriorating as the flow of international aid has dropped off significantly amid escalating Israeli military operations in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the primary provider of aid to Palestinians in Gaza, announced on Thursday that food distribution in the southern city of Rafah had been suspended due to a lack of supplies and insecurity caused by the Israeli offensive.

According to UNRWA, only seven of its 24 health centres in Gaza are currently operational, and the agency has not received any medical supplies for the past ten days due to closures and disruptions at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings into the coastal enclave.

The delivery of aid has been severely hindered since Israel stepped up its military operations in and around Rafah earlier this month, closing the border crossing to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. On Monday, Israeli forces renewed attacks in central Gaza, bombarding towns in the north and vowing to broaden operations in Rafah, despite international warnings of a risk of mass casualties in the densely populated city.

The violence has spilled over into the occupied West Bank, with Israeli forces conducting a raid in the city of Jenin on Thursday, reportedly killing seven Palestinians, including a doctor.

UN officials have been sounding the alarm over the aid distribution issues, stating that there is still not enough aid to avoid mass hunger in Gaza and pointing to multiple difficulties in getting assistance to where it is needed.

The Israeli agency coordinating the movement of humanitarian aid (COGAT) said on Thursday that just 14 trucks had been transferred through a temporary US-built floating pier since it began operating last week. Aid offloaded at the pier comes by ship from Cyprus but is first inspected by Israel.

According to COGAT, a total of 403 aid trucks were inspected and transferred to Gaza on Monday, including 40 through the northern crossing of Erez West. However, UN aid workers cited by Reuters have stated that although the floating pier was meant to help ease the humanitarian crisis, only deliveries through land borders could ensure relief on the scale needed.

With 1.1 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents facing serious food shortages, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, and aid organizations are struggling to provide even basic necessities amid the escalating violence and restrictions on movement.