Only a Trickle of Aid Reaches Northern Gaza, as Hunger Worsens

Only a trickle of aid managed on Monday to reach the desperately hungry people of the northern Gaza Strip, where the United Nations has warned that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians face a growing threat of famine after nearly five months of fighting and blockade.

Fifteen trucks were dispatched overnight to northern Gaza as part of a relief effort involving Palestinian businessmen, according to COGAT, the Israeli military body that regulates aid to the Palestinians. But at least five of those were looted along the way, according to an Israeli official who was not authorized to comment publicly, and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear exactly how many of the trucks reached their intended destination, Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood. Izzat Aqel, a Palestinian businessman involved in the operation, said he aimed to send another 30 trucks with food relief to northern Gaza on Monday night.

Aid officials have warned that Palestinians in Gaza could be on the brink of famine unless relief is substantially stepped up, with over 500,000 people already facing a dire lack of food. One in six children under the age of 2 in Gaza is acutely malnourished, according to the United Nations. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, said visits to hospitals in the north by agency officials — the first since early October — found severe levels of malnutrition and “children dying of starvation.”

The dire conditions have prompted crowds of desperate people to swarm aid trucks and contributed to a bloody scene last week, when Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians who had gathered en masse around a convoy of trucks that had entered northern Gaza. Over 100 Palestinians were killed, many by gunfire, according to Palestinian health officials. The Israeli military said the troops had fired on members of the crowd who approached them in a threatening manner and attributed most of the deaths to a stampede around the convoy.

In the wake of the bloodshed at the convoy, Israel has faced even greater international pressure to facilitate more aid for Gazans, particularly in the north.

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