Slowing relief operations and loss of goods threaten war survivors with starvation in Gaza (French)

GAZA – After three hours spent by "Abu Jamal," a retired teacher, in the popular market in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, he returned to his family empty-handed, except for a few tomatoes and onions.

Abu Jamal is not a resident of Rafah city, but fled with his wife and four children, and they live with his parents, three siblings and their families in a shelter in a government school, after he was unable to find room for them in a shelter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The southernmost city on the border with Egypt is crowded with more than 600,900 displaced people, who have raised its number to <>,<>, and UNRWA is likely to rise to more than one million, in light of the widespread displacement waves of residents of the city of Khan Yunis, which is under violent Israeli attack.

Shelters in public schools do not provide relief assistance like UNRWA. Abu Jamal says – for Al Jazeera Net – "I have money and there are no goods in the market, which decreases commodities and agricultural crops hour after hour, due to the continued closure of the only commercial crossing Kerem Shalom, which is controlled by Israel."

Gazans struggle to provide their basic necessities in markets devoid of goods and exorbitant prices (Al Jazeera)

Scarcity and high prices

The closure of this crossing since the outbreak of the Israeli war on the seventh of last October has affected all aspects of life, and most shops were forced to close their doors, after they were completely empty of goods and merchandise.

Abu Jamal lit a fire with a few firewood and used book papers next to his classroom at the Jerusalem Secondary School in downtown Rafah, and prepared a dish of "fried tomatoes" for his family.

The prices of vegetables and agricultural crops have skyrocketed, due to their scarcity in markets and the inability of farmers to access their land adjacent to the Israeli security fence. These areas, east of Rafah and the rest of the Gaza Strip, represent the "food basket" of the population.

For the same reason, and because of the lack of animal feed, livestock farm owners are forced to slaughter calves and cows when they are small and of low weight, in order to avoid their death, but the majority of Gazans are unable to afford their exorbitant prices. Abu Jamal commented, "Do we spend money on cohesion, and we don't know how long the crisis will last?"

The reality of Abu Jamal and his family applies to the majority of the 2.3 million Palestinians in the small coastal enclave, of whom UNRWA says 900,<> million are displaced, all in need of humanitarian support.

According to Adnan Abu Hasna, media advisor to the UN agency, "the aid that enters Gaza is a drop in the sea of humanitarian needs, whether before or after the temporary truce."

The head of the "Health Emergency Committee" in Rafah, Marwan Al-Hams, told Al Jazeera Net that poor health nutrition for children and infants increases the incidence of anemia and anemia, and threatens the spread of diseases and epidemics, especially in overcrowded shelters.

High rates of anemia among children in shelters due to malnutrition (Al Jazeera)

One meal per day

Twenty-year-old Hadeel Badawi cannot find milk for her baby, which she gave birth to at the Baptist Hospital a few hours before she was forced to flee from a shelter in the Zeitoun neighborhood southeast of Gaza City to a shelter west of Rafah city in the south.

And Hadeel (20 years old) mother of a child does not exceed two years, gave birth to her baby "Musab", whose name has not yet been registered in the official records, for the conditions of war and the disruption of government departments, says – Al Jazeera Net – that she suffers in order to breastfeed her baby, and does not have money to buy milk lost mainly from pharmacies and shops.

The young mother subsists on one meal from the daily assistance provided by the management of the shelter for the displaced, explaining that it is "inadequate and unhealthy" and does not suit her as a newborn woman.

UNRWA acknowledges that it is distributing what Abu Hasna described as "crumbs" to all residents of the Gaza Strip, following its decision to distribute flour to all residents, citizens and refugees, in response to the urgent need for this basic item, which is only available to UNRWA through aid trucks received through the Rafah land crossing with Egypt.

The average number of aid trucks per day is estimated at 55, which according to official UNRWA data represents only about 5 per cent of the Strip's needs.

UNRWA found itself responsible for all residents in the Strip, having taken responsibility for some 70 per cent of Gazans it describes as refugees, who come from refugee families from cities and towns in historic Palestine during the 1948 Nakba.

An employee at an UNRWA shelter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said relief assistance to IDPs in the centres had declined significantly and did not meet daily living needs, especially for women and children, who represent the largest proportion of IDPs.

Hadeel said that she received, on Tuesday, one small box of fava beans, a bottle of water, and a piece of biscuits, which is not enough for her until the next day, and affects herself in order to satisfy her child, while she is very worried about the life of her infant.


The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) reiterated its repeated warning of an "imminent humanitarian catastrophe" in the Strip. In a statement commenting on the renewed fighting following the collapse of talks to renew the temporary truce, he said it would "exacerbate the catastrophic hunger crisis".

"Food and water supplies are virtually non-existent in Gaza, only a fraction of what is needed arrives across the border, and with winter approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and lack of clean water, civilians face the immediate prospect of starvation," said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.

"There is no way to meet the current hunger needs through a single operational border crossing, and the only hope is to open another safe passage for humanitarian access to bring life-essential food into Gaza," she said. This is confirmed by other local and international organizations with regard to the Rafah crossing, which is not prepared to supply a larger number of trucks.

The director of the government media office, Ismail Al-Thawabta – for Al Jazeera Net – that "stopping the entry of aid or following the policy of drip in the introduction is a despicable method of pressure on the Palestinian people, children and women, by depriving them of food and medicine, and the important and basic necessities of life, and as a collective death sentence."

To save the Gaza Strip from total collapse and a certain humanitarian catastrophe, Al-Thawabta called for the entry of 1000,<> trucks of aid and actual real supplies on a daily basis, to respond to the priorities and actual needs of the population, in addition to one million liters of fuel per day.

According to Al-Thawabteh, this aid has become the only source for the majority of Gazans, in light of the continued occupation closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the only commercial crossing through which more than 500 trucks loaded with various types of humanitarian and living needs flowed daily.

"Our ability to provide bread or transport food to those in need has deteriorated severely, bringing life to a standstill in Gaza, people suffering from hunger," says Samer Abdel Jaber, WFP Country Director in Palestine.

Source : Al Jazeera