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UN officials warn Israel that aid operations will be suspended without increased protection

Israel says UN not doing enough to deliver aid in Gaza

Armed and masked Palestinians seen on trucks loaded with international humanitarian aid entering Gaza through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing, in southern Gaza, April 3, 2024. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Senior UN officials have warned Israel that aid operations conducted by United Nations aid organizations will be suspended unless Israel works to better protect humanitarian aid workers. 

The world body has demanded Israel do more to protect aid workers in Gaza, both from IDF strikes, as well as attacks by gunmen in the Gaza Strip. 

The UN sent a letter to Israeli officials earlier this month demanding that Israel government provide a way for its workers to have direct contact with IDF troops working on the ground in Gaza in order to prevent accidental strikes on UN workers. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, UN officials told PBS there has been no final decision on suspending operations in Gaza and that the body is in ongoing discussions with Israeli officials. 

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that the United States is attempting to broker an agreement between the UN and the Israeli military to guarantee the safety of aid workers. 

When asked about a meeting between the sides, Miller responded, “I can’t speak about a meeting, but I can tell you it’s an issue we’ve been intently focused on. Our special envoy for Middle Eastern humanitarian issues, Lisa Grande has been working with the UN and various government entities to try to figure out a way to allow UN workers to safely do their jobs and deliver humanitarian assistance.” 

The IDF and the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) have repeatedly accused the UN and other aid NGOs of not adequately distributing the humanitarian assistance that is inspected and brought across the border into Gaza. Israel has also implemented steps such as operational pauses to help the distribution of aid within the Gaza Strip. 

Meanwhile, despite the recent publication of an UN-affiliated ICP report showing that food deliveries into Gaza have been sufficient for the population, the UN continued to warn of a famine in the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, the World Food Programme (WFP) posted to 𝕏, claiming that 96% of Gaza faces “extreme levels of hunger.”

COGAT responded to the tweet with an image of humanitarian aid piled up on the Gaza side of the border which had not been distributed. 

“UM… what’s your excuse here, WFP?” the Israeli body asked. COGAT also repudiated UN claims of “looting or security concerns,” claiming the problem is due to “only a lack of motivation.” 

The WFP already halted aid deliveries from the U.S.-built Gaza pier, citing security concerns. The IDF claims that around 70% of aid from the pier was seized by Hamas operatives. 

Miller appeared to contest this when addressing reporters. 

“We’ve seen over the past few weeks a big backlog of humanitarian assistance to Kerem Shalom that hasn’t been able to move because of a breakdown in security on the ground,” the State Department spokesman noted. “This isn’t a breakdown in security where trucks are being shot at by Hamas or the IDF, it’s just random looting and criminal gangs and criminal actors who have been attacking trucks.” 

“We’ve been working with the UN and Israel to try and find the solution to that problem,” Miller added. 

Tuesday evening, the IDF and COGAT released a video of an attack reportedly by Hamas on a UNICEF aid convoy meant to reunite children with their families, indicating that Hamas, and not just "criminal gangs" were still targeting aid groups.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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