More than 100 Palestinians were killed trying to get aid

“Northern Gaza is where the IDF began its initial ground invasion in October; Israel targeted Gaza City as a Hamas stronghold. Though much of the population has been displaced to southern Gaza, there are still thousands of civilians in the area, and they have not had adequate aid distribution in around two months, Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International, told Vox.

“The biggest obstacle has simply been that the Israeli government has, for the most part, denied aid groups access to that part of the territory,” he told Vox.

The UN organization that is usually in charge of distributing aid to Palestine, UNRWA, cannot operate in the area for safety reasons. And aid workers have said they’ve found trying to work with Israel to get aid into Gaza all but impossible.

After a UNRWA and World Food Program aid convoy “coordinated with the Israelis,” according to Konyndyk, it was fired upon by Israeli troops. “There’s no confidence amongst professional humanitarians that they can actually have safe access into the north and that they won’t be targeted.”

Israel has also accused UNRWA of being in league with Hamas, and that accusation led many countries, including the US, to pause financial contributions to the organization. Aid distribution is challenging and requires significant coordination; without that, it’s easy for a situation in which people are starving and under significant duress to spiral out of control and turn violent.

Such infrastructure once existed in Gaza — via UNRWA and with the cooperation of Hamas civilian police — but that has been devastated by Israeli assaults and, in the case of UNRWA, an effort to undermine the organization.

“The best way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza is to stop the fighting,” Brian Finucane, senior adviser in the US policy program at the International Crisis Group, told Vox in an interview. “Based on reports today, in recent weeks, the breakdown of any sort of order in Gaza is even complicating that further and that Israel itself is contributing [to] that in no small part, including by targeting the police inside Gaza.”

Hagari said during the press conference that a private contractor was coordinating the aid distribution, although he did not name the contractor. Vox reached out to the IDF and to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for more information but did not receive a response by press time.

As part of potential ceasefire negotiations, the US is pushing for increased humanitarian access in Gaza, but so far has not backed up that rhetoric with meaningful action like pausing the flow of weapons to Israel or proposing a ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council. So despite the concerted efforts of diplomats and humanitarian workers, Finucane said, “They don’t have much to work with if the US bottom line is unconditional support for this catastrophic conflict.””

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