Food for starving Gazans rots in the sun as Israeli military keeps Rafah crossing shut

Aid monitor warns of imminent famine in parts of Palestinian territory

Stuti Mishra
Saturday 25 May 2024 12:26 BST
Related: WHO chief asks Israel to ease curbs on Gaza medical aid

Food aid bound for Gaza is rotting in the summer heat as the Israeli military keeps the Rafah border crossing with Egypt closed for a third week, intensifying the hunger crisis in the Palestinian territory.

Truck drivers waiting for weeks to cross the border said that they have been forced to get rid of the supplies for cheap or see them rot in the sun.

“Apples, bananas, chicken, and cheese have gone rotten. Some items are sold cheaply and others are discarded,” truck driver Mahmoud Hussein told Reuters.

“I’m sorry to say that the onions we are carrying will at best be eaten by animals because of the worms in them.”

Rafah, the sole crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, was the main entry point for humanitarian relief into the territory. But on 6 May, Israel expanded its war in the area, took control of the border crossing and shut it down.

Egyptian officials said humanitarian aid operations were at risk from Israel’s military activity and that Tel Aviv needed to hand the crossing back to Palestinians. Egypt was also worried about the risk of Palestinians being displaced from Gaza.

On Friday, Egypt and the US agreed to send aid through Israel’s nearby Kerem Shalom crossing until legal arrangements were made to open Rafah from the Palestinian side, the Egyptian presidency said.

That could ease the backlog of aid trucks on the road between the Egyptian side of the crossing and the town of Al Arish, about 45km west of Rafah and an arrival point for international relief. But it’ll be too late to save some food supplies.

Just over 900 truckloads of aid have entered Gaza since 7 May as against at least 500 per day the UN says are needed.

Gaza is facing a severe hunger crisis. A global monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of the territory, home to over 2.3 million people, most of them displaced by Israel’s military offensive that has left over 35,000 people dead in the last seven months.

Earlier, Norwegian Refugee Council said 2,000 aid trucks were stuck on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.

Suze van Meegen, the council’s head of operations for Gaza, said Palestinians were being “actively deprived” of much-needed shipments of medicine, tents, water tanks, sanitary products and other basics.

Additional reporting by agencies

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