Humanitarian organizations have issued a warning, stating that the limited aid entering the Gaza Strip is vastly inadequate in comparison to the immense humanitarian needs in the besieged enclave.
A first convoy of 20 trucks arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Saturday, but efforts to deliver supplies to the besieged enclave have been held up by Israeli demands to verify aid. Israel has allowed limited supplies of food, water, and medicines to enter the Palestinian state but has declined to permit the entry of fuel into Gaza due to concerns about potential use by Hamas.
Some trucks were transporting aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Tuesday, the United Nations said as US President Joe Biden dubbed humanitarian efforts to deliver help via a crossing from Egypt as “not fast enough.”
At the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jessica Moussan, Media Advisor in the Middle East, told Al Arabiya English, that the recent aid received in Gaza, while welcome, “is critically insufficient.”
“Prior to the escalation, Gaza required 600 trucks of provisions to barely meet needs; presently, only a handful make it through,” she said. “This minimal assistance is dwarfed by the enormity of the situation, particularly with health facilities in dire conditions.”
“Surgeons, working around the clock, report unprecedented levels of mass casualties, and many hospitals are virtually non-functional. Wastewater treatment plants are shutting down, and with no fuel to run desalination units, access to potable water is dwindling, heightening the threat of disease outbreaks.”
She said that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is reaching “unprecedented levels” with its already extremely fragile infrastructure “on the brink of total collapse.”
“Hospitals, the lifeline for countless injured, are alarmingly close to shutting down due to shortages, forcing medical professionals to work in unimaginable conditions, unsure if their own families have survived.”
“Essential utilities like electricity and water are scarce, putting the most vulnerable at even higher risk, from newborns in incubators to the elderly relying on life-sustaining machines. It is the civilians, especially the youth, who bear the brunt, growing up in a world defined by closed borders, recurrent conflict, and a darkening future.”
Juliette Touma, the spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has also expressed a sense of urgency, stating on Tuesday, “Without immediate access to fuel, we will be compelled to cease our operations in the Gaza Strip.”
She emphasized that if the fuel blockade continues, the agency’s work will come to a halt, with time rapidly running out.
The World Health Organization said in a statement on Tuesday that medicines and health supplies had been delivered to three key referral hospitals in southern Gaza but that it still needed to reach the north of the Palestinian enclave, one of the most densely-populated places in the world.
“We still have not been able to reach the hospitals in the north with the medical supplies or the desperately needed fuel,” said Dr Rick Brennan, WHO Regional Emergencies Director for Eastern Mediterranean Region.
Brennan said one-third of hospitals in the Gaza Strip were now non-functional at a time when the medical burden is enormous, and that some two-thirds of clinics are not functioning.
“We are on our knees asking for that sustained, scaled up, protected humanitarian operation,” he said.
“We appeal to all of those in a situation to make a decision or to influence decision-makers to give us the humanitarian space to address this human catastrophe.”
Rafah is the main crossing in and out of Gaza that does not border Israel. It has become the focus of efforts to deliver aid since Israel imposed a “total siege” of the enclave in retaliation for an attack by Hamas militants on October 7.
The siege has seen Israel cut off food supplies, water, electricity, and fuel. Humanitarian organizations have criticized the move as a form of collective punishment that may amount to a war crime under international law.
Israel has vowed “total destruction” in Gaza to wipe out Hamas militants, but international rights organizations have warned that the ongoing bombardment has led to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.