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Food aid suspension due to Gaza escalation of violence could leave thousands of Palestinians hungry

Four days into the escalation of violence in Gaza that spilled into southern Israel, Save the Children says it is unable to reach over five thousand Palestinians who are food insecure in the Gaza strip, as aid agencies are forced to suspend their programs.

Following the escalation of violence that started on Tuesday, May 9 and has already killed at least 31 Palestinians and one Israeli, Save the Children has suspended its food assistance programs, a lifeline for nearly 2,500 people in 450 households in Gaza. These are vulnerable and food insecure families redeeming food vouchers twice a month across several supermarkets across the Gaza strip.  

UNRWA has also announced it has suspended its food distributions on 10 May[i], and the closure of Kerem Shalom crossing has prevented the entry of vital items such as food, medical supplies and fuel, at a volume of over 300 truckloads per day.[ii]

With shops closed, long queues have been reported at markets, and farmlands have been damaged by hostilities in several governorates. Farmers are currently unable to access their lands and more than 4,000 fishermen are not allowed to fish in the sea, hindering their livelihoods as hostilities continue.[iii]  

This follows a deterioration of the economic, social and humanitarian conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza strip as a result of the sixteen-year-long blockade and recurrent escalations of violence that have driven rates of food insecurity to unprecedented levels.

Save the Children said it has also halted its early childhood education programmes, with schools in the Gaza strip and Southern Israel remaining closed on Friday. Mohammed*, a 10-year-old child from Rafah said:

"I did not go to school for three days now. And I cannot leave my home because of the airplanes, rockets, and bombing. I get scared, and so do my siblings, when the bombing happens at night. They [siblings] run to my uncle’s, and they cry, and my sister gets stomach ache. I pray to God that the war ends soon so that I can go back to school."

This week’s hostilities are the heaviest since fighting between Israel and armed groups in Gaza last August. The constant bombing has halted most humanitarian assistance programmes in the Gaza strip. Services provided by Save the Children’s partners to gender-based violence survivors, or those at risk of violence, have also been suspended. Violence against children and women is likely to increase during escalations and confinement.

The aid agency said its partners have been unable to reach 4,000 children and families in need of protection and mental health services.  

Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory said:

"Gaza’s children have been here before, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Poverty and unemployment were already on the rise, and this escalation will make life even more unbearable for thousands of children and their families.

"The government of Israel must immediately open all crossings into Gaza to enable life-saving humanitarian assistance to those who need it. Palestinian and Israeli children deserve better than this endless cycle of violence." 

[i] Food Security Cluster | [ii] ReliefWeb | [iii] OCHA, 11 May Update


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