Gaza Faces High Risk of Hunger Crisis Amid Conflict

Gaza Faces High Risk of Hunger Crisis
Gaza Faces High Risk of Hunger Crisis. Credit | REUTERS

United States: Relief inflows seem to have alleviated the hunger crisis in northern Gaza for the time being, but a draft assessment released on Monday stated that the entire region is at “high risk” of famine due to Israel’s onslaught in Rafah, which resulted in displacement and disrupted relief operations in the south.

Relief Efforts and Regional Impact

According to a report by the foremost international authority on the severity of hunger crises, nearly everyone in Gaza is struggling to get enough food. More than 495,000 people, or more than a fifth of the 2.3 million people living there, are predicted to experience the highest starvation level in the upcoming months.

That’s despite months of American pressure on Israel to help relief operations, the installation of a trouble-plagued $230 million American-built pier, and several airdrops by other nations that humanitarian organizations claim fall short of meeting essential needs.

 Escalation of Conflict and Humanitarian Consequences

Following an attack on October 7 by Hamas, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered over 1,200 persons, predominantly civilians, and kidnapped approximately 250 more, Israel invaded Gaza. The Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 37,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict; it does not specify the proportion of militants and civilians among them.

At the beginning of the conflict, Israel placed the region under total siege; under pressure from Washington, it has only progressively lifted the blockade. The majority of Gaza’s production capability has been devastated by the conflict.

The IPC declared that starvation was “imminent” in its March assessment, citing massive devastation and the fact that Israeli soldiers had encircled and effectively isolated northern Gaza since the beginning of the ground incursion. According to that study, stage 5, or extreme malnutrition, was being experienced by around one-third of Gaza’s population.

Israel vowed to provide supplies following strikes in April that killed seven relief workers and provoked an international outcry. Later, it opened more land crossings in the north. According to the IPC, food supplies to the north have “sharply increased.”

But in the beginning of May, Israel launched ground operations in the southernmost city of Rafah, leading to the closure of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and repeated disruptions to the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.

Famine is the same as stage 5 hunger, but according to the IPC, a region is only considered to be in famine when 20% of families have an extreme food shortage, 30% of children are acutely malnourished, and at least two adults or four children per 10,000 people pass away every day.

Challenges to Aid Distribution

Israel claims that hundreds of trucks arrive through various crossings almost every day and holds U.N. agencies accountable for their failure to distribute it. It further claims that containers are piling up at Kerem Shalom, the major cargo port in Gaza.

U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations claim that fighting in the region frequently prevents them from reaching Kerem Shalom and that Israeli limitations, challenges in communicating with the army, and the breakdown of law and order significantly impede their operations. They state that addressing the crisis is impossible without a complete cease-fire.

 The delivery of meaningful humanitarian assistance inside Gaza has become almost impossible, and the fabric of civil society is unravelling. Starving civilians are resorting to desperate measures to access the limited aid that trickles in , “they said.