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Food piles up at Gaza crossing in scorching heat as aid agencies and commercial Israel blame

Food piles up at Gaza crossing in scorching heat as aid agencies and commercial Israel blame

Humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip waits to be loaded onto trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza on June 17, 2024.

Humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip waits to be loaded onto trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza on June 17, 2024. © Ahikam SERI / AFP

More than eight months of war, triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, has led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and repeated UN warnings of famine, with foreign aid severely restricted.

Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million people has grown as fighting rages, prompting warnings from aid agencies that they are unable to deliver aid, including vegetables.

Israel says it has stopped supplies and asked agencies to step up deliveries.

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“The breakdown of public order and security is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations in Gaza,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also known as OCHA, said at a briefing on Friday evening.

“In addition to the fighting, criminal activities and the risk of theft and robbery have effectively prevented humanitarian access to critical locations.”

But Israel says it has allowed hundreds of aid trucks into southern Gaza, shifting blame to the United Nations for why aid is piling up.

He shared aerial footage of black and white containers lined up on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing and several trucks arriving to add supplies.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip is loaded at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza on June 17, 2024.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip is loaded at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza on June 17, 2024. © Ahikam SERI / AFP

With civil order breaking down in the territory, the UN says it has been unable to pick up supplies from Kerem Shalom since Tuesday, leaving crucial aid in limbo.

A deputy UN spokesman said this week that the crossing was “operating with limited functionality, including due to fighting in the area”.

Israel’s coordinator for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, said Thursday that “the contents of 1,200 aid trucks are awaiting collection by UN aid agencies,” saying the lack of distribution was to blame.

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Earlier in the week, COGAT spokesman Shimon Freedman told reporters at the crossing that the daily pause on a southern road into Gaza was designed to allow the UN to “collect and distribute more aid” alongside a military presence Israeli.

He said most aid did not move because “organizations did not take sufficient steps to improve their distribution capacity.”

Aid agencies instead pointed to Israel’s offensive on the southern city of Rafah, which has displaced more than a million people and closed a border crossing with Egypt as a deepening humanitarian crisis prevented relief efforts.

The US also sanctioned an Israeli extremist group last week, accusing it of blocking convoys and looting and burning trucks trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

And the UN food agency said its aid convoys were being looted inside Gaza by “desperate people”.

As both sides deadlock, Gazan civilians are paying the price.