Biden Says Israel’s Military Operation in Gaza ‘Not Genocide’: Latest Updates

One of the first aid shipments to arrive in the Gaza Strip via a US-built bunker has been looted, officials said Monday, underscoring the ongoing challenge of safely delivering humanitarian aid to a territory with severe food shortages and other needs.

Saturday’s failed delivery came two days after a floating pier built by the US military at a cost of more than $300 million docked with the Mediterranean coast in central Gaza. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

According to Aber Etefa, a representative of the World Food Program, a mob of Palestinians stopped a convoy of trucks that was unloading goods from the port, hurriedly grabbed its contents and fled. Two senior Western officials and Majdi Fathi, a photojournalist from Ghazni, confirmed Ms Etefa’s account. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Aid groups and the United Nations blame the hunger crisis in Gaza on Israeli restrictions on aid entering the enclave, as well as black marketeers who have seized supplies to sell at inflated prices. Israeli officials maintain that sufficient supplies have entered the territory and accuse Hamas of stealing and hoarding aid.

For months, as Gaza faced starvation, Palestinians were forced to take aid from trucks. U.N. officials say the looting reflects the desperation of ordinary people trying to feed themselves and their families, which they say has eased as large amounts of aid continue to flow into the enclave.

On Saturday, 11 of the 16 trucks that left the harbor with aid were looted as they headed for a World Food Program warehouse, Ms. Etefa said, adding that the food aid agency had suspended deliveries from mouth to mouth on Sunday and Monday.

Footage captured by Mr Fathi shows dozens of men chaotically grabbing and throwing boxes of goods from the bed of a truck near the Gaza Strip. In an interview, Mr. Fathi, 43, a freelance photographer, said crowds had gathered on the coastal north-south road after hearing that a group of trucks had passed through the area the previous day.

“They emptied them completely,” he said.

In recent days, aid has been diverted from the port to the Israeli-controlled Gaza Strip. There it was unloaded from one set of trucks and loaded into another set before being transported to population centers. It is unclear what arrangements have been made to protect the trucks after they leave Israeli-controlled territory.

On Friday, 10 trucks carrying aid from the port, including high-energy biscuits, arrived at the WFP warehouse without incident.

He said incidents like Saturday’s would happen again as long as insufficient food aid reaches the people of Gaza, and that more routes approved by Israel for aid delivery are needed to avoid overcrowding.

Aid flows through the two main border crossings south of Gaza rose sharply in April and early May, but fell short of what aid groups said was needed.

But since Israel invaded the eastern part of the southern city of Rafah on May 7 and closed the border crossing there, aid shipments have been diverted through southern routes. It almost stoppedAccording to the United Nations Primary Relief Agency for Palestine. The agency, known as UNRWA, said that in the 15-day period to Monday, only 69 trucks entered the two crossings – the lowest figure since the first weeks of the war.

In April, U.S. officials told reporters they hoped the port operation would initially provide enough support for about 90 trucks a day before ramping up to 150 a day.

The war-torn territory, home to some 2.2 million civilians, is more dependent on humanitarian aid than ever before. The destruction that developed after the seven-month war and strict Israeli inspections and restrictions on crossing points have limited what can enter Gaza.

Eric Schmitt Contributed to this article’s reporting.

Leave a Comment