Israel says UN failing to distribute aid in Gaza, needs to ‘scale up operations’

COGAT posts photo of what is says is ‘content of 500 trucks’ of humanitarian aid inside Strip that have not been picked up by UN organizations

A photo released by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories showing humanitarian aid inside the Gaza Strip that has not been distributed, Feb. 15, 2024. (X screenshot used in accordance with article 27a of the Copyright Law)
A photo released by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories showing humanitarian aid inside the Gaza Strip that has not been distributed, Feb. 15, 2024. (X screenshot used in accordance with article 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Defense Ministry’s liaison unit to the Palestinians chastised the United Nations on Thursday for not keeping up with humanitarian aid operations in the Gaza Strip.

Since the beginning of the war, aid groups have charged that they are not receiving enough supplies to meet the demands of Gazans in the embattled enclave.

But the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) posted photos on X of what it said is “the content of 500 trucks of humanitarian aid on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom, AFTER Israeli inspection, waiting to be picked up and distributed by UN orgs.

“It is the 3rd day in a row that hundreds of trucks are not picked up. The UN needs to scale up their operations,” COGAT said.

Israel has accused humanitarian actors of not doing enough to distribute aid since the beginning of the war. Particular criticism has been directed at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which stands accused of failing to visit hostages held by Hamas and provide them with adequate assistance.

ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said Thursday: “We are reaching the barriers of language in describing the humanitarian situation.”

Humanitarians have warned that carrying out aid operations in the area could soon become impossible. The Red Cross chief told diplomats that their countries were responsible for ensuring the Geneva Conventions on human treatment are upheld.

“It is not in your interest to offload (that) responsibility… onto humanitarian actors,” she said. “If the way operations are conducted today limits our operational space to a minimum… we will not be able to resolve the problem.”

Christopher Lockyear, head of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, agreed. In the current situation, “when we are talking about humanitarian assistance, we’re talking about an illusion of aid,” he said.

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths warned diplomats not to “look to the humanitarian community as a rescue brigade for the people compressed into that area” in southern Gaza.

“Conditions do not allow it,” he said.

“It will not be our fault if people suffer,” he insisted. “It will be the fault of those who decide to make this happen.”

Kate Forbes, president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), lamented Thursday that numerous humanitarians were being killed in Gaza.

She said one volunteer she recently met in Rafah had told her: “We’re all on a waiting list to die.”

Flour stuck in Ashdod

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, on Thursday regarding the need to increase humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza, Sunak’s office said.

“The Prime Minister highlighted the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urged Israel to fully open the Kerem Shalom crossing and allow the maritime delivery of international aid through Ashdod port,” a statement from Downing Street said.

A massive American shipment of flour intended to serve humanitarian efforts in Gaza is currently being held up at Ashdod port because of far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s insistence that the flour not be distributed by UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee aid organization, which is being probed over allegations that 12 of its employees participated in the Hamas October 7 massacre that started the war.

The US reissued a plea on Thursday to have the flour complete its journey into Gaza.

“I wish I could tell you that that flour is moving in, but I can’t do that right now. All I can tell you is that it is absolutely critical as a staple for the Palestinian people, and we’re going to keep working with our Israeli counterparts to see if we can get that port open to that flour,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in response to a question on the matter during a press briefing.

“They committed to allowing it in. We want to make sure that happens. We’re mindful of the comments made by members of the cabinet about flour in the Ashdod Port, and we are working it very, very hard,” he added.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel earlier this week that Jerusalem is looking into having other agencies distribute the flour, but those efforts have yet to bear fruit.

Palestinians inspect the damage to residential buildings where two Israeli hostages were reportedly held before being rescued during an operation by Israeli security forces in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (AP/Fatima Shbair)

After more than four months of a war that has demolished vast swaths of Gaza, displaced most of the territory’s population, and pushed people to the brink of starvation, Netanyahu has insisted the IDF must press ahead into Rafah for “complete victory” against Hamas.

According to the UN, half of Gazans are at risk of starvation.

The war erupted when Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities on October 7, slaughtering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking some 253 hostages to the Strip, while committing brutal atrocities.

At least 28,663 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in the ensuing Israeli offensive, according to figures by Hamas health authorities in the Strip. The figures cannot be independently verified, and Israel says they include at least 10,000 terror operatives, as well as those killed by failed rocket launches by terror groups.

Most Popular
read more: