UNRWA chief condemns Israeli bombing of aid distribution centre near Rafah as famine looms over Gaza - as it happened

Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Mar 2024

Ahram Online provided coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza on its 159th day.

Gaza warehouse
Staff stands near a pool of blood at an UNRWA warehouse in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after it was bombed by Israel on March 13, 2024. AFP


23:00 "Today’s attack on one of the very few remaining @UNRWA distribution centres in the #GazaStrip comes as food supplies are running out, hunger is widespread and, in some areas, turning into famine," said Philippe Lazzarini, the chief of the UN Palestinian refugees agency on his X account.

His post came hours after four people, including one UNRWA staff worker, were killed and 22 injured in an Israeli bombing of one of its remaining aid distribution centres near Rafah in southern Gaza on Wednesday morning.

"The UN and its personnel, premises, and assets must be protected at all times. Since this war began, attacks against UN facilities, convoys, and personnel have become commonplace in blatant disregard to international humanitarian law."

"I am calling once again for an independent inquiry into these violations and the need for accountability," said Lazzarini.



22:30 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi repeated on Wednesday Egypt’s warning against a possible Israeli ground operation in Palestinian Rafah and called on the Netherlands to push for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war.

In a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Cairo, President El-Sisi said: “Egypt has warned against Israeli plans to launch a ground military operation in the Palestinian city of Rafah, endangering the lives of over 1.5 million displaced individuals," according to a statement released by the Spokesperson for the Egyptian Presidency Ahmed Fahmy.

"Israel bears the responsibility to protect Palestinians in Gaza according to international law," noted El-Sisi.

He added that Egypt has also repeatedly warned against Israeli plans to make life in Gaza untenable.

The Egyptian President said his talks with Rutte focused on the situation in the region and the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

He reiterated the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and for Israel to cease its hostile actions.

“I called upon the Dutch Prime Minister to exert sincere efforts towards these ends, considering them fundamental conditions for ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and de-escalating tensions throughout the region.”

He noted that the actions of the “occupying power towards civilians in Gaza” constitute a grave violation of international law and humanitarian principles.

The Egyptian President also said that the decision of some countries to suspend their contributions to UNRWA contradicts all humanitarian norms and values, highlighting once again the double standards in dealing with Palestinian rights.

“Punishing an entire UN agency due to allegations against some of its employees is unjustifiable, especially considering UNRWA's exclusive role in receiving and distributing aid in Gaza, a role that must not be undermined,” added the President.

21:00 South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said that any of her country’s citizens who fight with the Israeli forces in Gaza will be arrested when they return home.

The Israeli army is using thousands of mercenaries in its war on the Gaza Strip, according to various media reports.

20:30 A 15-year-old Palestinian boy riding a bicycle was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after stabbing two Israeli security personnel at the crossing, according to Israeli police.

The attack occurred at around 8:15 am (0615 GMT) at the Tunnels checkpoint south of Jerusalem when the teenager arrived on a bicycle, the force said in a statement.

A female soldier and a civilian armed guard were wounded in the stabbing, the police said, adding their injuries were "mild to moderate."

Israeli police later pronounced the Palestinian boy dead.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported that the 15-year-old was "left to bleed until he died" by security forces at the checkpoint.

The knife attack comes a day after a 12-year-old Palestinian boy died after being shot by Israeli border police at a refugee camp in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Rami Hamdan Al-Halhuli, 12, was shot dead by Israeli forces while he was playing with his brother and friends in front of the family home in Shuafat refugee camp.

The police have not yet released Rami's body to the family, British broadcaster BBC reported.

The family told the BBC on Wednesday that the bullet hit Rami in his heart.

"There was no hope," said his older brother Mahmoud, 19, who rushed to Rami the moment he was shot. "He was already dead."

Rami was one of six Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces in occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank on Tuesday, BBC reported.

Hundreds of extra police have been deployed in the Old City of east Jerusalem since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on Monday.

19:30 Amid Israeli bombardment and the deaths of loved ones, displacement, and near-starvation conditions, Palestinians in Gaza cling to life by insisting on celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.

AFP photojournalists captured precious moments of calm amid the storm!



View the full gallery here


18:30 More than 200 Israeli settlers raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound on Wednesday under the protection of the Israeli army, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported citing the Islamic Waqf, the body responsible for running the site.

Some 212 settlers broke into the Mosque’s compound from Al-Maghariba gate, carried out provocative tours of the Mosque’s yards, and performed Talmudic rituals, Wafa said citing sources.

The latest Israeli settler raid of the compound comes as Israel regularly tightens its military presence in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa while Palestinian Muslims mark the first days of Ramadan.

The Palestinian news agency reported restrictions on the entry of worshipers, only allowing the entry of men aged 55 and over, women aged 50 and over, and children under the age of 10.

The Israeli army also surrounded the fence adjacent to the compound in the Lion’s Gate area with barbed wire, said Wafa, adding that the move aims to prevent worshipers from entering Al-Aqsa.

Wafa noted that Israeli authorities have also deployed around 23 patrols throughout the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, where tensions have spiked against the backdrop of the Israeli war on Gaza.

On Sunday, Israeli forces obstructed the entry of hundreds of worshipers into Al-Aqsa Mosque, Wafa reported, as Palestinians tried to perform Tarawih prayers on the first day of Ramadan.

Israeli forces detained many civilians at the gates leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian news agency added.

According to WAFA, Israel has also issued dozens of deportation orders against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to prevent them from praying during the holy month.

17:30 A second Gaza-bound aid ship would embark from the Cypriot port of Larnaca once a boat already sailing along the new maritime corridor completes its mission, Cyprus's foreign minister said Wednesday.

Israel's war and siege on Gaza, now in its sixth month, has created a severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine.

Due to the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, only a fraction of the basic supplies needed to sustain Gaza's 2.4 million people have been let in by land.

In response, foreign governments have turned to airdrops and are now trying to open the maritime corridor from Cyprus.

Israel's war on Gaza has so far killed at least 31,272 people and wounded nearly 75,000, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.

The Israeli blockade on food, water, and medical supplies has left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the verge of starvation.

The first boat, Open Arms, set sail on Tuesday in a trial for the new aid route, which UN and other humanitarian officials have said was unlikely to compensate for the lack of overland access.

The second vessel, "with bigger capacity" than the Open Arms, will be able to leave Larnaca "after the off-load" of the first one, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told reporters.

"If there is no problem, we have lined up the next departure."

Pulling a barge loaded with 200 tons of humanitarian aid, the former salvage vessel Open Arms should take "several days" to cross the roughly 370-kilometre (230-mile) sea journey between Cyprus and Gaza, said the Spanish charity operating it, also called Open Arms.

It has not disclosed the planned unloading point on Gaza's shores, citing security concerns.

15:37 Twenty-five human rights and humanitarian organizations operating on the ground in Gaza issued a joint statement saying airdrops and sea routes are no alternative to aid delivery by land.

The only way to meet the unprecedented humanitarian needs in the strip was to ensure unhindered humanitarian access through all land crossings, they said.

“States cannot hide behind airdrops and efforts to open a maritime corridor to create the illusion that they are doing enough to support the needs in Gaza. Their primary responsibility is to prevent atrocity crimes from unfolding and apply effective political pressure to end the relentless bombardment and the restrictions which prevent the safe delivery of humanitarian aid,” they said.

The group, which includes Amnesty International, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), said that while a convoy of five trucks can carry about 100 tons of lifesaving assistance, recent airdrops delivered only a few tones of aid each.

“After enduring five months of continuous bombardments and dehumanizing conditions, children, women and men in Gaza have the right to more than meager charity dropped from the sky,” the statement said.

“Families are starving and do not have the time for offshore and ashore infrastructure to be constructed: saving their lives requires immediately allowing the humanitarian trucks full of food and medicine whose entry in Gaza is currently being withheld.”

14:56 Israel bombed a UNRWA aid distribution centre in Rafah City. 

The health ministry in Gaza said four people were killed in the "bombing of the warehouse."

The UNRWA said one of its aid warehouses in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip was "hit," killed four, including at least one of its staff, and wounded 22 people.

"We can confirm that a UNRWA warehouse/distribution centre in Rafah (southern Gaza) has been hit," agency spokeswoman Juliette Touma told AFP, adding that there were "scores injured."

The agency reported that 162 UNRWA staff and 404 people in UNRWA shelters have been killed, 1,400 have been injured by Israeli strikes since the start of the war, and 157 UNRWA installations have been damaged. 



14:31 The Palestinian Football Federation (PFA) says former national team member Mohammed Barakat, 39, was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

He was killed in a strike Monday on a residential building in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Affectionately known as “the lion” by fellow players, Barakat had played for the national team and several clubs in Gaza, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

He began his professional career in 2015 with Shabab Khan Younis, where he became the first player in Gaza to score 100 goals with a single team.

The PFA says 158 athletes, including 91 soccer players from various divisions, are among those killed by Israel since the beginning of the war.


Mohammed Barakat


13:32 US officials are preparing for a pause on funding the main UN agency for Palestinians to become permanent due to opposition in Congress, even as the Biden administration insists the aid group's humanitarian work is indispensable, Reuters reported.

Bipartisan opposition in Congress to funding the UNRWA makes it unlikely the US will resume regular donations anytime soon, even as countries such as Sweden and Canada have said they will restart their contributions.

A supplemental funding bill in the US Congress, which includes military aid to Israel and Ukraine and is supported by the Biden administration, contains a provision that would block UNRWA from receiving funds if it becomes a law.

The US, along with other countries, suspended its funding to the UN agency that supports the Palestinian refugees in January after Israel claimed, without evidence, that some of its employees in Gaza participated in the 7 October operation.

A dossier sent by Israel to the donors of the UNRWA, claiming that aid workers were involved in Hamas' 7 October attacks, contained no evidence to back their controversial claims, a UK broadcaster has reported.

The six-page dossier led over a dozen countries including the US, UK, and Germany to suspend funding to UNRWA despite the document providing "no evidence to support its explosive new claim that UNRWA staff were involved in the terror attacks on Israel," according to Channel 4 News

The EU, Sweden, and Canada revoked a previous decision to suspend contributions and decided to resume funding to the agency, which operates in five separate locations where Palestinian refugees live, including Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria. 

The UNRWA announced it will increase transparency while UN investigators conduct their investigation.

Some 13,000 people at UNRWA provide healthcare, education, and humanitarian aid to more than two million Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are now displaced from their homes by Israel’s six-month and ongoing bombardment and siege. 

Israel is waging a concerted campaign aimed at destroying UNRWA, as it opposes the “right of return” for the refugees, expelled from their homeland by the Israelis in 1948, and their descendants.

"It is a long-term political goal because it is believed that if the aid agency is abolished, the status of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved once and for all and with it, the right of return. There is a much larger political goal behind this," Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency said.

13:23 The Palestinian Media Office criticized the current approach to delivering aid to Gaza through the sea, saying that "the effectiveness of this mechanism becomes questionable." While acknowledging a ship carrying humanitarian supplies is departing from Cyprus, the statement argues this aid is simply not enough.

"Until this moment the insufficiency of efforts to relieve our people and that they remain below the minimum required threshold in the face of the humanitarian disaster affecting people, especially in northern Gaza, where more than 700,000 people suffer from a clear war of starvation," said Salama Maarouf, head of the media office, in a statement.

He goes on to highlight the frustration with the slow and limited nature of these deliveries, explaining that "the ship's cargo does not exceed the load of a truck or two, and it will take days, and it is not known at this moment where it will dock and how it will reach the shores of Gaza, not to mention that it will be subject to inspection" by the Israeli occupation authorities.

The statement urges the international community to take action and calls on them to pressure Israel to grant access to Gaza through land crossings, "such as Rafah and Karm Abu Salem, or otherwise reopen the Muntar, Shuja'iya, and Beit Hanoun crossings."

"The international community must act urgently and before it's too late to save those dying of hunger and the best way to do that is to operate the land crossings in a manner that allows for the rapid entry of thousands of trucks of aid and relief, which are lined up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing and rejected by the occupation."

13:12 Here are some of the most recent photos from the occupied Palestinian territories.


A member of the United Nations (UN) mourns over the body of a colleague at Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP

A Palestinian man mourns over the body of a loved one at Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. AFP

Mourners carry the bodies of two Palestinian youths who were killed during an Israeli army raid the previous day in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, during their funeral. AFP

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a stabbing attack at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. AFP

This picture taken from Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian territory. AFP

13:08 Hamas denied in a statement that it received an offer for an extended ceasefire.

"There is no truth to what Al Arabiya channel published, attributed to (a senior Hamas source) of news about the movement receiving an international offer for an extended ceasefire in Gaza and a gradual return of the displaced, or a delegation heading to Cairo to discuss the details," read the statement.

In a separate statement, Hamas said that the "UNRWA’s statement that there is no international will to bring aid into Gaza in light of the widespread and expanding famine is a declaration of failure for the international community and the United Nations."

"It is a submission to the policies of genocide carried out by the criminal Zionist occupation army against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip," the resistance group added.

Hamas reiterated the call to all parties to take immediate and urgent action to force the occupation authorities to open all land crossings with the Gaza Strip, especially the Rafah and Karm Abou Salem crossings, saying "They are the fastest means of bringing in humanitarian aid, and to address the scarcity of emergency food supplies, which threatens hundreds of children with death."

13:00 China voiced strong criticism against the US policy in Gaza. China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin particularly criticized Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remarks on Muslims in a Ramadan address.

"There is no conflict in China's Xinjiang; it is the Gaza Strip where there is conflict. Muslims living in Xinjiang are not subject to starvation, displacement, and killings; it is the millions of Muslims in the Gaza Strip who are subject to starvation, displacement, and killings," said Wenbin.

He accused the US of hypocrisy and employing "double standards" on human rights issues.

He urged the US to take concrete actions to save the lives of Muslim people in Gaza, rather than engage in "political performance" during Ramadan.



12:35 The Palestinian health ministry updated the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza to at least 31,272 people since Israel launched its genocide war on the strip on 7 October.

The latest toll includes at least 88 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 73,024 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war began.

12:25 Qatar Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said that he hopes a truce agreement in Gaza will be reached before Eid Al-Fitr.

Qatar, a mediator in the negotiations, “seeks to push the two parties to reach an agreement,” he said in a post on X.

His statement comes a day after Al-Ansari said that Israel and Hamas are not close to a deal to halt the war, adding that he could not "offer any timeline" on an agreement while the conflict remained "very complicated on the ground."



12:15 The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the field executions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, stressing this will only drag the region into further escalation and blow up the situation.

“The series of field executions committed by the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank is clear evidence that the ruling Israeli right is the one seeking to blow up the situation during the month of Ramadan and enter it into a never-ending cycle of violence,” the statement read.

The ministry added that Israel's continued impunity from punishment and accountability encourages it to commit more war crimes.

The ministry further strongly denounced the surge in extrajudicial killings and field executions committed by the occupation forces against Palestinian people, resulting so far in the killing of over six people, including children, in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in less than 24 hours.

The ministry also described them as "war crimes and crimes against humanity."

It said: "What is happening is a translation of the instructions of the political and military level in the occupying state, which makes it easier for soldiers and colonists to shoot citizens, and a direct reflection of an official Israeli policy and a racist, retaliatory colonial mentality in dealing with the Palestinians."



​12:05 Israeli settlers damaged around 50 fruit trees in the village of Majdal Bani Fadel, south of Nablus city, according to local sources.

The head of the Majdal Bani Fadel Village Council, Rami Nassar, said that a group of Israeli colonists from the Majdalim colony sneaked into the said village and damaged nearly 50 olive and almond trees owned by a resident, according to WAFA.

Nassar affirmed that this is the third time that the settlers have destroyed trees during the past two weeks.

Palestinian villages in the province of Nablus have been witnessing a surge in colonists' attacks and violence against farmers and shepherds.

He pointed out that both settlers from the illegal outposts of the Maale Ephraim and Tikai grazed their sheep and cows on agricultural farmlands belonging to residents from the said village, causing significant damage to the corps.

12:00 The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has released footage depicting a distress call from a Palestinian family trapped beneath the debris of their home in Deir Al-Balah due to Israeli army shelling.

According to the organization, their efforts have led to the recovery of six bodies and the rescue of nine injured individuals from beneath the rubble.

The video, shared on X, showcases PRCS teams managing communication between the trapped individuals and ground rescuers.



11:20 Al Jazeera correspondent said that two Israeli soldiers were injured in a stabbing attack at a military checkpoint south of occupied Jerusalem.

10:50 Germany, a fervent supporter of the Israeli war on Gaza, said it was joining an air bridge operation along with several other countries to drop desperately needed humanitarian aid into the Strip.

The operation, initiated by Jordan, already has the participation of several other countries including Egypt, France, and the United States.

The defense ministry said it would deploy the German part of a joint German-French air transport squadron to participate in the mission.

"The people in Gaza are lacking the most basic necessities. We want to do our part to ensure that they get access to food and medicine," said Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.

10:45 Two people were killed in an Israeli strike near a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, three security sources in Lebanon told Reuters.

An AFP photographer saw rescue workers collecting human remains and the mangled wreck of a car engulfed by flames near the refugee camp of Rashidieh, close to the coastal city of Tyre.

According to Reuters, one of the killed was a member of Hamas from the camp.

The source identified the member as Hadi Mostafa but said he was not a senior figure.

Two security sources said a Syrian man who was passing by on his motorcycle was also killed in the strike, after earlier saying that the two fatalities had been in Mostafa's car.

Since the Gaza war erupted in October, Lebanese group Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily fire across their shared border.

Since then, at least 319 people, including at least 54 civilians, have been killed by Israel in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, at least 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed in the cross-border fire.

10:40 The Israeli army said that an aid convoy has for the first time entered the Gaza Strip through a crossing in the northern half of Gaza, according to the AP.

Six trucks entered Gaza late Tuesday through a gate in the border fence, carrying goods from the World Food Program, the army said. It described the delivery as a test run and said the Israeli government would review the results.

Tel Aviv is under growing international pressure to ease restrictions on aid entering Gaza, particularly the northern half of the territory. Up to now, aid convoys entered Gaza from its southern end and had to make their way through areas of fighting and large, desperate crowds of Palestinians.

10:25 Former Gaza detainees said they were physically assaulted and forced to kneel for up to 20 hours a day, sometimes with their hands tied above their heads, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"When Israeli soldiers released Baha Abu-Rukba near a Gaza border crossing after holding him for nearly three weeks, the 24-year-old Palestinian said he was in pain and struggling to walk after being hit repeatedly with rifle butts and kicked in the groin."

"The occupation forces stripped us of our clothes for long periods during interrogations."

Another detained journalist Muhammad Obaid said: "The occupation released me without charges after 40 days of detention," WSJ said.

They quoted him as saying: "The soldiers asked me to wipe the blood off my face to take a picture in front of the Israeli flag."

Heba Ghaben said: "They threatened me with electric shocks and tied our hands and feet."

Former detainees said they were physically assaulted by Israeli soldiers and forced to kneel for up to 20 hours a day, sometimes naked and with their hands tied above their heads during the war, WSJ added.

This is not the first testimonial reporting such abuse. Palestinians arrested by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza have repeatedly revealed stories of widespread physical abuse and neglect. 

Soldiers ordered men to undress and strip-searched women during weeks in Israeli custody. The detainees were subject to repeated beatings, according to several testimonials.

Palestinians in Gaza who were detained by Israeli forces are coming back "completely traumatized" upon release and reporting abuses while in captivity, the head of the UNRWA said.

There have also been well-documented cases in which arbitrarily detained Palestinians were subjected to various kinds of torture and deeply degrading treatment, a circumstance that was detailed in an unpublished UNRWA report.

The 11-page document prepared in February revealed that some of them were also forced to make false confessions about their links with Hamas.

According to the report, reviewed by Reuters and other news agencies, some UNRWA staff members were pressured to make false statements about being involved in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7 inside Israel in which over 1,100 people were killed.

The experts also voiced alarm at "credible allegations of egregious human rights violations" targeting women and girls in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

10:15 Five Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed in the morning, and others were injured, in an Israeli bombing of the Tal Al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City.

WAFA correspondent said that the occupation artillery fired 4 shells near Al-Quds Hospital, which is affiliated with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, in the neighbourhood.

The Israeli war against the Gaza Strip killed more than 31,112 Palestinians and injured about 72,760 were injured, most of whom were children and women.

10:10 A Palestinian child and a young man were killed, and three others were injured, as Israeli occupation forces opened fire on them near the town of Al-Jib, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, according to medical sources.

The two individuals were identified as the child Abdullah Mamoun Assaf, aged 16, and the young Zaid Ward Khalaifeh, aged 23.

Eyewitnesses said that the occupation forces left the child to bleed until he died and barred him any first aid given to him, WAFA reported.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that its teams dealt with two fatalities and three injuries at the Israeli army checkpoint outside the town of Al-Jib, WAFA news agency said.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry confirmed that two slain individuals and three others with gunshot wounds were brought to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah after they had been targeted by Israeli army gunfire in the town. 

Earlier, a 13-year-old child identified as Rami Hamdan Al-Halhuli was shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces in the Shuafat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem.

The Israeli occupation forces today detained six Palestinians, including a child during a wide-scale raid across the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).  

10:00 At least 27 Palestinians have died of malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza, most of them children, according to the most recent toll.

Fresh Israeli bombardments could be heard in southern Gaza, an AFP journalist said early Wednesday.

The Palestinian health ministry reported another 70 people killed in overnight strikes.

With land shipments into the territory severely curtailed by Israel, the international community has sought to diversify routes for delivering aid, including via air drops and the new Cyprus maritime corridor.

The Open Arms ship that left the port of Larnaca on Tuesday is towing 200 tons of relief goods roughly 400 kilometres (250 miles) across the Mediterranean to Gaza, with US charity World Central Kitchen saying work was "underway" on a jetty to unload the shipment.

Cyprus said a second vessel was also being prepared.

Aid groups have been warning of the risk of famine in besieged Gaza for weeks, and the United Nations has reported particular difficulty in accessing the territory's north for deliveries of food and other humanitarian supplies.

The UN aid coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, and head of the United Nations Office for Project Services, Jorge Moreira da Silva, said in a joint statement they "welcome the opening of a maritime corridor" while cautioning it may not be enough.

"For aid delivery at scale there is no meaningful substitute to the many land routes and entry points from Israel into Gaza," they said.

Israel has maintained strict control over supplies entering the Gaza Strip, and aid workers have blamed cumbersome screenings for the severity of the current shortages.

Without specifically mentioning the new overland route, the WFP wrote on social media platform X that it had "delivered enough food only for 25,000 people to Gaza City early Tuesday in (the) first successful convoy to the north since 20 February".

"With people in northern #Gaza on the brink of famine, we need deliveries every day," it added.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), called on Tuesday for an immediate ceasefire, labeling the war "a war on children."

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, meanwhile, told the UN Security Council that "starvation is being used as a war arm".

"This humanitarian crisis ... is manmade," he said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 25 people in north Gaza have died of malnutrition and dehydration, with 21 of them being children.

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