Jerusalem, Feb 8 (EFE) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported Thursday that it has not been allowed by the Israeli army to deliver food to northern Gaza for two weeks.
“The last time UNRWA was allowed” by the Israeli army “to deliver food” to the northern area of the Strip was on Jan. 23, said the general commissioner of the entity, Philippe Lazzarini, through the social network X (formerly Twitter).
On Jan. 26, Lazzarini and UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that Israel had informed them earlier in the week of “extremely serious allegations” against UNRWA staff, which prompted the agency’s main donors to withhold its donations, putting UNRWA’s continued humanitarian work at risk.
According to Lazzarini, even before the allegations were made against UNRWA staff, Israel began obstructing aid missions, as “since the beginning of the year, half of our aid mission requests to the north (have been) denied.”
This area, which includes both Gaza City and the northernmost areas of Jabalia, Beit Hanoun or Beit Lahia – deeply destroyed by Israeli fighting and shelling – has been cut off from the south of the Strip, to which many of the residents were evacuated.
“The UN has identified deep pockets of starvation and hunger in northern Gaza, where people are believed to be on the verge of famine,” Lazzarini said.
There are an estimated 800,000 Palestinians in the north who did not evacuate, including some 300,000 people who depend on UNRWA aid to survive, according to Lazzarini, who denounced that “preventing access prevents lifesaving humanitarian aid.”
Complaints about Israel’s obstruction of humanitarian access have come not only from UNRWA, but also from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which stated on Jan. 18 that “the first two weeks of January have witnessed a dramatic increase in the rate of denials by the Israeli military of access to areas to the north of Wadi Gaza.”
The northern Gaza Strip has been one of the hardest hit by Israel’s ground offensive, which began on Oct. 27 and initially focused on the north, where Israel claimed in January that it had completed dismantling Hamas’ military infrastructure.
However, the Islamist group continues to resist, and the army has had to increase its troop presence in the area, whose residents have been subjected to severe humanitarian collapse, isolation and widespread devastation.
Since the start of the war on Oct. 7, more than 27,800 Gazans have been killed in the Israeli offensive on Gaza, with 130 people killed in attacks in the last few hours.
Meanwhile, Israel continues its offensive in the southern area of Khan Yunis, with the aim of reaching the southern tip of Rafah. EFE