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UN agency says Israel must allow food deliveries to northern Gaza

Palestinian children sit amid the rubble of a building destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has called on Israel to revoke a ban on food deliveries to the northern Gaza Strip from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Jens Laerke, the OCHA spokesman, made the appeal at a UN briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday, a day after UNRWA said Israel will no longer approve its food convoys to north Gaza.

Laerke said people in Gaza are facing a “cruel death by famine.”

“The decision must be revoked.”

“You cannot claim to adhere to these international provisions of law when you block UNRWA food convoys.”

On Monday, Israel said it would stop working with UNRWA in Gaza, accusing the UN agency of involvement in the conflict.

UNRWA, which provides healthcare, education, and other vital services to the Palestinian people, was accused by Israel in January of having links to the October 7 operation conducted by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas against the occupying entity in response to the intensification of Tel Aviv’s decades-long crimes against the Palestinians.

The allegations prompted more than 10 donor countries, including the United States, Germany, Canada, and Japan, as well as the European Union to suspend financial support. The funding used to make up the bulk of all the money the agency received.

The collective move against UNRWA came amid mass displacement and an all-out famine across Gaza prompted by Israel’s campaign of death and destruction in the blockaded territory in response to the October operation.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said he has seen "paper thin" children in a hospital in northern Gaza.

 James Elder made the remarks during the same UN briefing on Tuesday, while describing his latest visit to northern Gaza.

"Tens of thousands of people crowd the streets,” he said. “They make that universal signal of hand to mouth desperately asking and seeking for food.”

“Life-saving aid is being obstructed. Lives are being lost.”

“I saw children whose malnutrition state was so severe, skeletal.”

Israel has killed at least 32,300 Palestinians in Gaza since early October.

The regime has also cut off fuel, electricity, food and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.

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