Palestinian children

Palestinian children wait in line to receive food distributed by charitable organizations amid Israeli attacks in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on May 28, 2024.

(Photo: Hassan Jedi/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Incessant IDF Strikes Making Gaza Aid Deliveries 'Virtually Impossible': Oxfam

"When hunger claims many more lives, nobody will be able to deny the horrifying impact of Israel's deliberate, illegal, and cruel obstruction of aid."

A leading global humanitarian group said Tuesday that the Israeli military's relentless bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip and continued obstruction of aid operations there have made efforts to deliver food, medicine, and other assistance to desperate Gazans "virtually impossible."

Oxfam International noted in a statement that two-thirds of Gaza's population—roughly 1.7 million people—is now packed into less than a fifth of the occupied enclave, often in areas with little to no access to the meager humanitarian assistance that Israel has allowed to enter in recent months.

According to the latest United Nations figures, the amount of aid entering Gaza has plummeted by 67% since Israeli forces launched their ground assault on Rafah last month. More than a million people have fled Rafah since early May, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said Monday.

The World Food Program (WFP) wrote on social media Tuesday morning that the families that fled Rafah are "now in areas with insufficient clean water, medical supplies, fuel, and limited food assistance." The organization said it has been forced to "provide reduced rations" to ensure badly needed aid reaches as many Gazans as possible.

In its statement Tuesday, Oxfam said that "a lethal combination of closed border crossings, ongoing airstrikes, reduced logistical capacity due to evacuation notices, and a failing Israeli permission process that debilitates humanitarian movement within Gaza, have created an impossible environment for aid agencies to operate effectively."

Israeli forces shut down Rafah's border crossing with Egypt—a critical entry point for humanitarian aid—nearly a month ago, further hampering efforts to prevent famine conditions from spreading. Oxfam noted that "Kerem Shalom is the only crossing that thousands of humanitarian aid trucks queued at Rafah could be rerouted to use, but inside is an active combat zone and extremely dangerous."

"Despite Israeli assurances that full support would be provided for people fleeing, most of Gaza has been deprived of humanitarian aid as famine inches closer," the group added. "Last week, Israeli attacks killed dozens of civilians in tents in areas it had declared 'safe zones.'"

"The conditions are unbearable, there is no access to clean water, people are forced to rely on the sea."

The impacts of Israel's massive bombing campaign, ground attacks, and blockade on Gaza's population have been catastrophic, killing more than 36,500 people and plunging the territory into a nightmarish humanitarian crisis. Oxfam pointed Tuesday to recent survey findings showing that 85% of Gaza children included in the study "did not eat for a whole day at least once in the three days" before the survey began.

"Living conditions are so appalling that in Al-Mawasi, there are just 121 latrines for over 500,000 people—or 4,130 people having to share each toilet," the group continued. "Just 19% of the 400,000 liters of fuel a day needed to run the humanitarian operation in Gaza—including transportation, the provision of clean water, and sewage removal—is being allowed in and is not delivered every day."

Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam's Middle East and North Africa director, said Tuesday that "by the time a famine is declared, it will be too late."

"When hunger claims many more lives, nobody will be able to deny the horrifying impact of Israel's deliberate, illegal, and cruel obstruction of aid," she added. "Israel claimed weeks ago that they would provide full humanitarian support and medical assistance to civilians it had told to move. Not only is this not happening, its ongoing impunity, bombardment, and deliberate obstruction have created unprecedented and impossibly dangerous conditions for humanitarian agencies to operate."

An Oxfam staffer currently in Al-Mawasi—the area to which Israel ordered Rafah residents to flee—said that "there is nothing humanitarian about the situation here."

"The conditions are unbearable, there is no access to clean water, people are forced to rely on the sea," said the staffer, identified as Meera. "These people deserve so much better. Children should be in school, not worrying about how to support their families. Babies should be sleeping in warm beds, not exposed to insects."

The Guardianreported over the weekend that at least 30 child deaths from malnutrition have been recorded in Gaza in recent months. Two Palestinian children died of starvation at a hospital in central Gaza last week, according to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in response to Oxfam's statement Tuesday that "despite the Biden administration's long-awaited expression of support for a permanent cease-fire, it continues to fund the Israeli government's daily genocidal war crimes against Palestinians in Rafah and the rest of Gaza."

"The Biden administration must take concrete action to force the Israeli government to stop the slaughter and starvation in Gaza," said Hooper. "The genocide must end now, without delay."

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