Gaza still hungry as aid trickles in before Eid festival

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 12:22 PM

GAZA (Reuters) – A boy staggered between tents in a Gaza displaced camp on Monday, his arms around a cardboard box of aid ahead of Islam’s Eid al-Fitr festival, six months into an Israeli air and ground campaign that has devastated the Palestinian enclave.

Israel’s military assault in retaliation for Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack has pushed Gaza to the brink of famine, aid agencies say, though some more aid is starting to flow in.

Palestinians in Gaza said the extra supplies were still nowhere near enough to ease harsh conditions with nearly all the tiny, crowded territory’s inhabitants displaced from their homes.

Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends Islam’s fasting lunar month of Ramadan, is expected in Gaza on Wednesday, depending on a clear sighting of the moon, but there is little to cheer for Palestinians this year.

The boy struggling under the cardboard box had received it from a U.N. distribution centre in the central town of Deir al-Balah where long lines of people stood to present identity papers in return for boxes containing tinned food.

“There isn’t enough food. I hadn’t received a box in two months. Yesterday we got a box that won’t be enough for me or my kids and the other 18 people with us. If one person got a box every day it wouldn’t be enough,” said Fayez Abdelhadi in the camp.

He said the aid delivery also lacked any basic hygiene supplies such as soap and detergent, though the massive destruction has helped trigger a public health crisis with little clean water and rampant disease.

Umm Mohammed Hamad, a woman in the camp who had been displaced from her home in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, said she had been living at a U.N. shelter there for nearly two months.

“We didn’t receive any boxes, no help. Only today have they started distributing boxes,” she said.


Some hospitals have reported children dying of malnutrition and starvation since last month and have warned of other preventable deaths because medical supplies are lacking.

At Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza, media head Wissam al-Sekni said a shipment that arrived on Sunday was not enough to meet the needs of patients, particularly antibiotics to treat injuries commonplace in the war zone.

But he said the lack of varied, nutritious food was the biggest problem.

“Most of the children (in the hospital) come with malnutrition, especially premature babies due to the malnutrition of the mother,” Sekni said.

In a neonatal ward, four-month-old baby Assem al-Najjar has put on no weight since birth, said his mother, and required surgery for a hole in the heart that is impossible to perform in Gaza now.

Israel’s campaign in Gaza began when Hamas stormed across the border, killing around 1,200 people and dragging another 253 into captivity as hostages according to Israeli tallies.

The offensive in the enclave has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

International pressure on Israel to let more aid into Gaza increased last week after airstrikes targeted a relief convoy and killed seven aid workers.

In response to the pressure, Israel said it had approved the reopening of the Erez crossing into northern Gaza and the temporary use of Ashdod port in southern Israel to bring in supplies.

(Reporting by Reuters in Gaza; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Peter Graff)