The persistent food shortage in Gaza continues to pose a critical threat to the well-being of its inhabitants, exacerbating an already precarious humanitarian situation. This stringent control over the flow of supplies has severely hindered the timely and adequate delivery of essential food items. The blockade has resulted in a scarcity of fundamental commodities, including grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, contributing to the growing food insecurity in the region.
Prior to this phase of conflict, the collapse of all productive sectors, basic social services and infrastructures in Gaza was alarming. Poverty and food insecurity in the Strip affect 59.4 percent and 63 percent of the population respectively, said World Food Program.
Shortages of medical supplies, food, drinking water and electricity have left 2.3 million Gaza Palestinians at risk of starvation and disease following Israel’s total blockade of the Strip in the wake of attacks by Hamas on October 7.
The international agency Oxfam analyzed UN data and found that just 2 percent of food that would have been delivered has entered Gaza since the total siege – which tightened the existing blockade – was imposed on 9 October; following the attacks by Hamas and the taking of Israeli civilian hostages. While a small amount of food aid has been allowed in, no commercial food imports have been delivered.
Prior to the hostilities, 104 trucks a day would deliver food to the besieged Gaza Strip, one truck every 14 minutes, Oxfam report stated, it added.
Despite 62 trucks of aid being allowed to enter southern Gaza via the Rafah crossing since the weekend, only 30 contained food and in some cases, not exclusively so. This amounts to just one truck every three hours and 12 minutes since Saturday.
Importing food into Gaza is riddled with multifaceted challenges, predominantly attributed to the Israeli blockade and associated restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
The limited capacity and deteriorating infrastructure at entry points have further compounded the hurdles in the importation process. Delays in clearance and rigorous security protocols have impeded the efficient transportation of food, amplifying the strain on an already fragile food supply chain.
Under international human rights law, states must respect the right to water, which includes refraining from limiting access to, or destroying, water services and infrastructure as a punitive measure during armed conflicts as well as respecting the obligations to protect objects indispensable for survival of the civilian population.
In this war at least 8,306 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in Israeli attacks since October 7; more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel. According to international sources one Palestinian child has been killed every 10 minutes. Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF, also said that at least 6,300 children have been injured due to the Israeli attacks. This means that on average, 420 Palestinian children are killed or injured every day in the Gaza Strip, she explained. The IOsraeli government should immediately end its total blockade of the Gaza Strip that is putting Palestinian children and other civilians at grave risk. Human Rights Watch said.
Efforts to alleviate the food shortage have been impeded by ongoing geopolitical challenges, impeding the establishment of a sustainable solution. International humanitarian aid, though crucial, has proven insufficient to address the growing needs of the population. As a result, concerted global efforts and diplomatic initiatives are essential to address the systemic issues causing the food crisis and to ensure the well-being and sustenance of the people in Gaza.
Urgent measures are required from the Israeli government to lift the blockade and alleviate the dire circumstances faced by Palestinian children and civilians. Although international aid has offered some relief, it remains insufficient in fully addressing the escalating crisis. Therefore, concerted global diplomatic efforts are imperative to tackle the systemic challenges contributing to the food shortage and to ensure the well-being of the people in Gaza.