At least five people killed in Gaza aid delivery, as UN warns famine is imminent in northern areas

At least five people killed in Gaza aid delivery, as UN warns famine is imminent in northern areas
  • PublishedApril 1, 2024

An aid delivery in Gaza has descended into chaos with shots fired and five people reportedly killed, as almost six months of Israeli bombardment has left hundreds of thousands in the Palestinian territory in desperate need.

A Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic at a nearby hospital said five people were killed and dozens injured by gunfire and a stampede, during a rare aid distribution in north Gaza.

Witnesses told AFP shots were fired by both Gazans overseeing the aid delivery and Israeli troops nearby, and panicked lorry drivers drove away quickly, hitting people trying to get the food.

The Israeli military told AFP it had “no record of the incident described”.

Aid deliveries have become increasingly fraught as the needs of Gazans increase.

The United Nations (UN) and partners have warned that famine could occur in largely isolated north Gaza as early as this month.

The US also says famine is imminent, but an official on Friday told Reuters it might already be present.

“While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and centre but not present, in the north it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road.

On Friday, the UN’s top court ordered Israel to open more land crossings and to take other “necessary and effective” measures to address the humanitarian crisis.

Israel said it respected international law and would “expand” the current flow of aid in Gaza.

Foreign countries have ramped up airdrops of aid in the meantime, but several people have been killed by falling crates or drowned trying to retrieve packages from the sea.

Second aid shipment leaves Cyprus

Two charities have also organised aid deliveries by sea, with their second mission in just over two weeks setting sail from Cyprus on Saturday.

World Central Kitchen, one of the charities, said two ships and a barge will deliver 400 tonnes of food to prepare more than one million meals.

The deliveries will take about 65 hours to reach Gaza.

Two cargo ships next to each other on the sea on a sunny day.
A second shipment of aid has left a port in Cyprus and is headed for Gaza.(AP Photo: Petros Karadjias)

Separately, the United States plans to construct a floating pier off Gaza to receive aid. A military ship carrying equipment to build the temporary port arrived earlier this month.

The target for completion is May 1, but it could be ready by April 15, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said on Friday, citing briefings with US officials.

UN agencies have repeatedly said that overland deliveries are the only way of supplying aid in the volume needed.

Palestinian Dalia al-Afifi, displaced to Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, has constructed a home from the cans received in aid packages to “make a point to the world” about the plight of the territory.

“This must stop. Our lives are not just cans,” she told AFP.

The Israeli bombardment continued apace into Saturday, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip saying at least 82 people were killed overnight.

The Hamas press office said “civilian houses” had been hit by dozens of Israeli strikes.

The Israeli military said it had struck dozens of targets including militants and their compounds.

Children gesture in desperation as a crowd of people gather to get food offered by volunteers.
UN agencies say overland deliveries are the only way of supplying aid to Gazans in the volume needed.(Reuters: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

There have been reports of heavy clashes in Gaza on Saturday, with the territory’s largest hospital continuing to be the focus of the Israeli military.

The Hamas-run healthy ministry estimates 32,705 people have been killed in more than five months of war.

The war began with Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack that resulted in about 1,200 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Truce talks to resume

Meanwhile, truce talks between Israel and Hamas are set to resume in Cairo on Sunday, Egypt’s Al Qahera News TV reported, citing a security source.

Speaking to Reuters, an Israeli official confirmed that Israel will send a delegation to Cairo.

A Hamas official however told Reuters the group would wait to hear from Cairo mediators on the outcome of their talks with Israel first.

The warring sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel’s offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of the 130 hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

Israel had recalled its ceasefire negotiators from Qatar on Tuesday, accusing Hamas of sabotaging the diplomacy “as part of a wider effort to inflame this war”.

The deadlock had come after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Israel had said it pulled a high-level delegation due to travel to the US in response to America abstaining from the security council vote.


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