As of Sunday, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has risen above 8,000.
The United Nations relief agency says thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been forced to desperation amid an ongoing Israeli siege that has stripped them from access to food, water and essential aid amid intense bombing.
Palestinians have started to enter warehouses belonging to the UN to take much-needed food, including wheat, flour, and other essential goods in a desperate bid for survival, more than three weeks after Israel blocked all access to food, water and electricity.
“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege,” said Thomas White, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza.
The latest developments come as Gaza’s health ministry confirmed the death toll from Israel’s weeks-long war has surpassed 8,000, half of whom are children, drawing global calls for an immediate ceasefire.
“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, together with the unconditional release of hostages & the delivery of relief at a level corresponding to the dramatic needs of the people in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated on his social media channels.
On Sunday, the White House said United States President Joe Biden called for accelerating humanitarian assistance to Gaza in phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, despite Washington bolstering the war with statements of support for Tel Aviv.
According to The Washington Post, a senior US official stated that Israel agreed to allow 100 aid trucks into Gaza per day, though this has yet to be seen.
“Supplies on the market are running out while the humanitarian aid coming into the Gaza Strip on trucks from Egypt is insufficient,” UNRWA said.
“The needs of the communities are immense, if only for basic survival, while the aid we receive is meagre and inconsistent.”
“The current system of convoys is geared to fail. Very few trucks, slow processes, strict inspections, supplies that do not match the requirements of UNRWA and the other aid organisations, and mostly the ongoing ban on fuel, are all a recipe for a failed system,” Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the agency, said, according to Al Jazeera.
Starvation being used as ‘weapon of war’
Last week, Oxfam warned that starvation is being used a “weapon of war” in the besieged Gaza Strip and called on Israel to allow essential supplies to enter the territory, emphasising the dire consequences of the current situation.
Oxfam’s statement on Wednesday revealed only “two percent of food that would have been delivered has entered Gaza since the total siege.”
The British-founded charitable organisation estimates that approximately 104 trucks per day are urgently needed to provide sustenance to the desperate population.
“The situation is nothing short of horrific – where is humanity? Millions of civilians are being collectively punished in full view of the world, there can be no justification for using starvation as a weapon of war. World leaders cannot continue to sit back and watch, they have an obligation to act and to act now,” said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Regional Middle East Director.
“Every day the situation worsens. Children are experiencing severe trauma from the constant bombardment, their drinking water is polluted or rationed and soon families may not be able to feed them too.”
“How much more are Gazans expected to endure?” she added.
Citing international humanitarian law, which unequivocally prohibits starvation as a method of warfare, Oxfam asserted that the current situation in Gaza blatantly violates this principle and condemned it in the strongest terms.
With Israel’s war on Gaza nearing one month, more than one million people have been internally displaced, the majority of whom are taking refuge in hospitals and schools that have been targeted by deadly Israeli airstrikes.