Amid chaos and crime in Gaza, UN said to warn Israel humanitarian ops may be halted

Humanitarian coordinator reportedly tells FM that Israel may be left to deal with humanitarian crisis alone; Katz rejects request to allow in dual-use items

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip drives at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza, on June 17, 2024. (Ahikam SERI / AFP)
A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip drives at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between southern Israel and Gaza, on June 17, 2024. (Ahikam SERI / AFP)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz held a tense meeting on Tuesday with UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag, Katz’s office told The Times of Israel.

According to Channel 12, the UN official warned Katz that Israel may soon be left to deal with Gaza’s humanitarian crisis alone.

Kaag told Katz that chaos and crime are spreading in Gaza, and if the situation doesn’t change, soon the UN won’t be able to continue operating in the Strip, the report said.

The Foreign Ministry pointed to the fact that over 1,000 truckloads of aid are waiting to be distributed on the Gazan side of border crossings, but the UN has not done so. Kaag responded that UN workers are afraid of Gazan gangs and looting and fear that the anger of the residents could be directed toward them. She warned that Israel could be left to deal with the humanitarian mess in Gaza on its own, Channel 12 said.

The report said Kaag also asked for so-called dual-use items to be allowed in, but Katz said that Israel still insists that no goods that could be used by Hamas to produce weapons be allowed into Gaza.

While ministry officials acknowledged a difficult conversation took place, they did not confirm the channel’s account of the details.

On Thursday the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) pressed the United Nations to “scale up” and distribute aid that Israel has processed and transferred to Gaza.

“On the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where over 1,000 trucks are awaiting collection and distribution… there are hundreds of aid pallets awaiting collection and distribution by the UN aid agencies,” says Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian in a statement.

“We have said in the past, and we continue to say so now — the UN has a duty to scale up its logistical capabilities of collecting and distributing the humanitarian aid. We [are continuing] with our efforts — now it is your duty to complete the job.”

On Wednesday, COGAT said, 285 aid trucks were transferred to the Gaza Strip through the Erez and the Kerem Shalom crossings. Some 88 aid trucks were collected by UN aid agencies and the private sector, according to COGAT.

COGAT also released footage of hundreds of packages awaiting distribution in the unloading area of the US JLOTS pier.

Aid groups have warned that a significant number of Gazans are experiencing famine-like conditions in the Strip due to the Israel-Hamas war.

The issue of aid distribution has become critical, with UN agencies and humanitarian organizations claiming the mass influx of aid consignments across the Gaza border crossings has not been effective in alleviating the humanitarian crisis due to a lack of sufficient distribution outlets, which they claim Israel has not provided.

Palestinians line up to obtain drinking water during its distribution in the tents of the displaced, in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, on June 10, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

COGAT has long insisted that it is the UN and aid agencies that have failed to increase distribution capacity.

In another challenge to aid efforts, Egypt has refused to let aid through its Rafah Border Crossing since Israel took control of the Gaza side of the crossing in early May. The Kerem Shalom Crossing from Israel continues to operate despite coming under intermittent attack by Hamas, and two recently opened crossings in northern Gaza are also operating.

According to a New York Times report Tuesday, the aid pier built on the Gaza coast by the United States for some $200 million may be dismantled earlier than planned, having so far completed a total of 10 days of actual operations.

Earlier this month, the World Central Kitchen aid organization said it is in ongoing communication with COGAT and that it has succeeded in supplying its numerous kitchens in Gaza with aid brought in through the crossings.

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