Gaza war: Over 1 million Palestinians 'food insecure', OCHA says, as Israel continues to block aid

Gaza war: Over 1 million Palestinians 'food insecure', OCHA says, as Israel continues to block aid
Israel has been accused of using hunger and starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, where malnutrition and food insecurity are rampant.
2 min read
29 March, 2024
Nearly half of Gaza's population is faced with an extreme level of food insecurity as a result of Israel's war and blockade [Getty/file photo]

Over one million people in Gaza are experiencing "extreme levels" of food insecurity as Israel continues to pound the territory and block the entry of aid, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday.

In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, the UN body stressed that aid delivered by land is the only way Palestinians in Gaza can currently survive, and that time "is running out", as more and more Gazans die of hunger and starvation.

UN bodies, rights groups and experts have issued multiple warnings over an looming famine in the war-hit and besieged territory, particularly in Gaza’s north.

At least 27 children have so far died of malnutrition and dehydration, with the death toll expected to be much higher as hunger levels persist in the enclave, which has been subject to an almost six-month-long military onslaught by Israel.

At least 32,623 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s offensive began on October 7, with the majority of casualties being women and children.

"There is no alternative to the large-scale delivery of aid by land to have enough aid to save lives, especially [sic] in the north," OCHA said.

"Nevertheless, access impediments persist & time is running out," it added, in reference to Israel’s repeated blocking of aid intended for Gaza, despite international outcry.

The likes of Antonio Guterres, the UN’s Secretary-General, have said that the imminent famine in Gaza is "entirely man-made", while United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk said that Israel was using hunger "as a weapon of war", due to its deadly offensive combined with the obstruction of aid.

Additionally, most of the little aid supplied to the Gaza Strip has been air-dropped into the Mediterranean Sea. Such a method has caused the deaths of dozens of Gazans in recent weeks, with many either drowning or trampled to death as they desperately rushed to collect humanitarian packages.

On Tuesday, twelve Palestinians drowned, and six others were crushed to death as people hurried to gather American air-dropped aid packages in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.

Earlier this month, five Palestinians were killed when parachutes dropping aid packages failed to open and smashed into residential buildings, north of the Al-Shati refuge camp, also in northern Gaza.

Many have criticised air-dropped aid deliveries, calling them "inappropriate, dehumanising and humiliating", as well as ineffective.