Israeli navy 'fired on UNRWA Gaza aid convoy', amid famine fears

Israeli navy 'fired on UNRWA Gaza aid convoy', amid famine fears
The report comes amid a suspension of aid to northern Gaza by the UN's World Food Program, citing the Israeli attack in February and breakdown of civil order.
3 min read
21 February, 2024
The Israeli navy have been participating in Israel's war on Gaza, patrolling the waters of Gaza [AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli military fired on a UN aid convoy held at an Israeli checkpoint while attempting to deliver food to northern Gaza, according to a new report.

The 10-truck convoy which had been dispatched by the UN's Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) was being held on the al-Rashid Road that runs up Gaza's coast on 5 February, before being fired upon by Israeli naval vessels.

According to CNN, documents shared with it by UNRWA reveal that Israeli agency COGAT had approved the use of the Al-Rashid road for the convoy, which had set out early in the morning.

An UNRWA incident report revealed how the convoy reached the checkpoint at 4:15am and was fired on at 5:35am with naval gunfire heard at the time of the incident.

The attack damaged a truck and destroyed its food cargo, mostly flour, amid a dire situation in northern Gaza with people having to consume animal feed to survive.

UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma told CNN that the truck was hit by Israeli naval gunfire, adding that the agency shares the route and coordinates of its convoys with Israel and can only move with Israeli approval.

UNRWA director Tom White shared photos of the damaged truck on X, which showed a hole in the side of the truck and damaged goods. He also said that Israeli naval fire was the cause of the damage.

On the same day, the Israeli military said it would look into the incident, however, CNN noted that it had failed to respond to comment requests on the incident.

CNN used the images to determine that the damage the truck sustained was caused by fire coming from the direction of the sea.

CNN reviewed satellite imagery from two hours after the incident showing three Israeli missile boats off the shores of Gaza. The Israeli military has previously stated that naval vessels have supported Israeli ground operations in Gaza.

Following the attack, Israel denied the remaining nine trucks entry into Gaza City, with the UN suspending aid to northern Gaza for three weeks due to the attack and "the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system".

On Monday the UN's World Food Program (WFP) announced it is again pausing food deliveries to northern Gaza until conditions improve for the safe distribution of aid, following a collapse of civil order across the enclave.

In December, several aid organisations warned that Israel's war on Gaza, which has killed 29,313 Palestinians a wounded a further 69,333 since 7 October, was putting the enclave on the brink of famine.

In particular, a report from UNICEF and the WFP noted that 15.6 percent of children in northern Gaza under the age of two are suffering from acute malnutrition, adding that many in the strip were already dying from hunger and disease.

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Aid in Gaza has come under significant strain over the past month, particularly following the suspension of funding to UNRWA by major donors over unsubstantiated Israeli claims that 12 staff members were involved in the 7 October attacks.

URNWA says the loss of funding from the US, UK, and others will likely result in the agency having to suspend operations in March.