Israeli soldiers fire at Palestinians approaching aid trucks in Gaza

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is growing worse by the day, but not much aid is allowed in.

Workers unload bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) border crossing in the southern part of the Palestinian territory on February 17
Workers unload bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Karem Abu Salem border crossing in the southern part of the Palestinian territory on February 17, 2024, in Rafah [Said Khatib/AFP]

Desperate Palestinians rushing toward aid trucks to fetch food in central Gaza were forced to flee after Israeli troops opened fire on them amid the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the enclave.

Footage verified by Al Jazeera shows hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City in the central part of the besieged enclave running to get food items delivered by the United Nations in boxes on the back of trucks as bullets are fired.

“Desperate and hungry Palestinians are running out of options. Under Israeli sniper fire, they are risking their lives to reach one of the few aid trucks entering Gaza City,” said Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza.

A Palestinian man speaking to Al Jazeera said people lack the minimum necessities of life.

“They came here to find something, at least some flour. People put themselves and their lives in danger for little things for their families. We’re below zero, there’s nothing, I assure you that people will die of hunger,” said the Palestinian man.

“People now go to the garbage to find something to eat.”

Israeli gunboats fire on Palestinian fishing boats

Footage has also shown how Israeli gunboats have opened fire on small Palestinian boats that were trying to fish off Gaza’s coast as dozens watched from land.

“Under the Israeli blockade [before the war], Palestinians used to be able to fish up to 37km [23 miles] out to the sea, but not any more,” said Abu Azzoum.

This threatens a vital source of food in the enclave where only limited numbers of aid trucks have been allowed in by Israel, which the United Nations has said are far too low to meet urgent needs.

The UN has warned of widespread famine-like conditions in the Gaza Strip growing by the day and impacting most of the 2.3 million Palestinians living there.

Desperation is also growing in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, where flour mills have ground to a halt.

“There is no wheat. The price of one bag of wheat today has reached more than 3,000 shekels, or more than $1,000,” said a Palestinian man operating a flour mill in the area.

Israel, which controls entry points, has refused to allow more aid into Gaza despite international pressure, a United Nations Security Council resolution in December, and interim rulings by the International Court of Justice.

Its planned ground invasion into Rafah, which it brands the “last bastion” of Hamas, only promises to make the humanitarian situation more dire.

About 1.4 million Palestinians are in Rafah, where they have been displaced by previous Israeli attacks, some multiple times. Hundreds have begun fleeing Rafah in the past few days as Israel remains adamant on its promise to attack despite international pressure.

Gantz warns of offensive in Rafah

Talks between Israel and Hamas, mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, have so far failed in achieving a ceasefire agreement that would also include increasing the flow of aid into Gaza.

On Saturday, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that progress towards a ceasefire negotiations was slowing down as Israel prepares to mount an invasion of Rafah.

“The pattern in the last few days is not really very promising but … we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” Al Thani, who is also the foreign minister of Qatar, said at the Munich Security Conference.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz late on Sunday warned that if captives held in Gaza are not freed within the next few weeks, Israel will broaden its offensive in southern Gaza and push into the city of Rafah. More than 100 captives remain in Gaza and talks for their release have so far failed.

Israel has also rejected a three-phase ceasefire proposal by the Hamas group that would allow the release of the captives.

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, including the Rafah area,” Gantz, a retired military chief of staff, told a conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Sunday.

“Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages and the civilians of Gaza can celebrate the feast of Ramadan,” added Gantz, a member of the three-person war cabinet.

Source: Al Jazeera