Aid heads to Gaza, but challenges persist in delivering food to its malnourished populace

Published: Mar. 20, 2024
Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On the second day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, Palestinians displaced due to ongoing conflicts between Israel and Hamas, assemble in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, to receive donated food via a charity. This occurs as they prepare for an iftar meal, the traditional breaking of the fast.

In response to the continued unrest, massive international aid operations are currently under way to provide much-needed food, medicine, and other supplies. These efforts are not without significant hurdles. For example, the U.S. military and independent NGO vessels are committed to delivering aid by sea, and the U.S. is airdropping aid while the U.N. food agency managed to get the aid in by land. However, there is still much red tape to overcome to ensure the relief reaches the people trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip.

President Biden announced last week that the military would construct an offshore floating pier for aid deliveries to Gaza. This was followed by news of a separate humanitarian mission involving a ship loaded with food expected to arrive in Gaza soon. Palestinian territories are teetering on the brink of a "massive deterioration", warns Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator. He insists that while aid via sea and air is beneficial, the majority must come by road, which remains the most direct way to deliver supplies in large quantities to locals in Gaza, especially in the northern areas.

A humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions unfolds as trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to northern Gaza, an area on the brink of famine, are denied entry at the Israeli military checkpoint. The crowd's desperation for food led to the looting of a 14-truck food convoy which was re-routed and delayed at the checkpoint. The stringent measures have tightened following the recent surge in aggression from the northern Gaza-based radical group, Hamas.

Up to 300,000 people are estimated to be stuck in northern Gaza under abysmal conditions. Emergency services are functioning minimally, and access to food and water is scarce. Reports cite that at least 23 children and four adults have succumbed to malnutrition and dehydration in northern Gaza's hospitals. Will the continuance of aid package airdrops, the unceasing efforts of multiple international campaigns, and proposed plans manage to avert a pending disaster? The fate of civilians hangs in the balance.

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