Tue 27 Feb 2024 5:53 pm - Jerusalem Time

United Nations: Israel "systematically" prevents the delivery of aid to the residents of Gaza

The United Nations confirmed on Tuesday that Israeli forces are "systematically" preventing access to Gaza residents who need assistance, complicating the task of delivering aid to a war zone that is not subject to any law.

The spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, said that it has become almost impossible to carry out operations to evacuate the sick and wounded and deliver aid in northern Gaza, and the matter is also becoming more difficult in the southern Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, the Israeli authorities have prevented all aid convoys planned to be sent to the north. The last aid allowed in was on January 23, according to the World Health Organization.

What makes the situation more difficult is that even convoys that had been previously cleared and searched by Israeli authorities were repeatedly blocked or came under fire.

Laerke referred to an incident that occurred last Sunday when a convoy organized by the World Health Organization and the Palestinian Red Crescent to evacuate patients from the besieged Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis was blocked for seven hours and a number of paramedics were detained.


Laerke told reporters in Geneva: “Despite prior coordination of all employees and vehicles with the Israeli side, Israeli forces stopped the convoy led by the World Health Organization the moment it left the hospital and prevented it from moving for several hours.”

He added, "The Israeli army forced patients and employees out of the ambulances and stripped all the paramedics of their clothes."

He said that the convoy was carrying 24 patients, and had to leave 31 other patients in Al-Amal Hospital, which stopped working after being subjected to forty attacks last month alone, which resulted in the deaths of at least 25 people.

“Three paramedics belonging to the Palestine Red Crescent Society were later arrested, even though their personal data had been shared with Israeli forces beforehand,” Laerke said, adding that only one of them has been released so far.

“The failure to provide adequate facilities for the delivery of aid throughout Gaza means that humanitarian workers are at unacceptable and avoidable risk of arrest, injury or worse,” Laerke said.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it would suspend its operations in Gaza for 48 hours, because Israel failed to ensure the safety of its emergency medical teams.

Laerke said the UN would continue to remind Israeli forces that they were obligated, at a minimum, to facilitate the “safe, smooth and rapid passage” of aid missions, when informed.

Desperate residents

The situation is further deteriorating hopelessly in the densely populated sector.

Laerke said that UN aid trucks, which travel without armed escorts, are often stopped once they cross into Gaza by crowds of people who are in desperate need of food and other aid.

He stressed, "This is not an isolated incident... Aid convoys have come under fire, and have been systematically prevented from reaching those in need."

"Desperate people take what they can," he said.

He added that there also appear to be gangs seizing aid that is later offered on the black market, warning of "an increasing collapse of the civil order inside Gaza."


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United Nations: Israel "systematically" prevents the delivery of aid to the residents of Gaza