Palestinian Child Starves Amid Israeli Blockade on Northern Gaza

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has taken a tragic turn with the death of Anhar Saqr Al-Shanbari, a Palestinian child from Beit Hanoun, who succumbed to starvation. This heartbreaking incident is a direct consequence of the Israeli blockade on Northern Gaza, which has been preventing humanitarian aid trucks from reaching the starving Palestinian population.

Since the onset of Israel’s war on Gaza on October 7, the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 30,000 Palestinians and left 70,000 wounded. The United Nations has warned that the situation is rapidly deteriorating, with some 2.3 million people in Gaza now teetering on the brink of famine.

Israel, which severed all supplies of food, water, and fuel into Gaza at the start of the war, opened one entry point for humanitarian aid in December. However, aid agencies report that stringent checks by Israeli forces and protests by far-right demonstrators at the Karem Abu Salem crossing, known in Israel as Kerem Shalom, have significantly impeded the entry of food trucks.

Even when supplies manage to reach Gaza, aid workers face difficulties in picking up the goods or distributing them due to a lack of security. This is partly attributed to Israel’s targeted killings of policemen guarding the truck convoys.

The situation is particularly dire in northern Gaza, which has been almost entirely cut off from aid since late October. Despite the desperate circumstances, UN agencies have been unable to provide assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) attempted to resume deliveries to northern Gaza last Sunday but had to suspend operations two days later due to Israeli gunfire and a “collapse of civil order”. The WFP reported witnessing “unprecedented levels of desperation” in the north, with hungry Palestinians mobbing trucks to get food.

The WFP is working to resume deliveries as soon as possible and has called for better security for its staff, “significantly higher volumes of food”, and the opening of crossing points for aid directly into northern Gaza from Israel.

Meanwhile, the UN has reported that at least 90 percent of children under five in Gaza are affected by one or more infectious diseases. Alarmingly, 15 percent, or one in six, children below two years of age in northern parts of the territory were acutely malnourished. Before the war, only 0.8 percent of children below five in Gaza were considered acutely malnourished, indicating a drastic deterioration in health conditions.

The international community must act swiftly to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people and ensure the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. The current crisis underscores the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and an end to the blockade that has brought Gaza to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

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