Oxfam says Israel 'deliberately' blocking aid to Gaza

AFP , Monday 18 Mar 2024

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam on Monday accused Israel of intentionally preventing the delivery of aid into Gaza, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Children walk past the rubble of a collapsed building with a pot of food provided by a charity organization ahead of the fast-breaking iftar meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2024. AFP


The non-governmental organization said in a report that Israel continued to "systematically and deliberately block and undermine any meaningful international humanitarian response" in the Palestinian territory.

It said that Israel was defying an order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January to boost aid in Gaza, and was failing its legal responsibility to protect people in the land it occupies.

"The ICJ order should have shocked Israeli leaders to change course, but since then conditions in Gaza have actually worsened," said Oxfam Middle East and North Africa director Sally Abi Khalil.

"Israeli authorities are not only failing to facilitate the international aid effort but are actively hindering it. We believe that Israel is failing to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide."

Oxfam said that "unjustifiably inefficient" inspection rules were causing aid trucks trying to get into Gaza to be stuck in queues for 20 days on average.

It said that Israeli authorities arbitrarily reject "dual-use" items -- civilian goods that also have potential military use such as backup generators and torches.

"The list of rejected items is overwhelming and ever-changing," Oxfam said.

It recalled that water bags and water testing kits in an Oxfam shipment were rejected with no reason provided, before later being permitted entry.

The group also denounced "attacks on aid workers, humanitarian facilities and aid convoys" and "access restrictions" for relief staff, particularly to northern Gaza.

Oxfam noted that 2,874 trucks entered Gaza in February, which represented "20 percent of the daily average" before the deadliest-ever Israeli war on Gaza started on October 7.

Some 1.7 million Palestinians, 75 percent of Gaza's population, are at risk of famine, according to Oxfam.

"The conditions we have observed in Gaza are beyond catastrophic," Oxfam said in its report.

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