Aid trucks looted as Gaza becomes ‘death zone’

Gazans are eating the looted food 'on the spot' according to a UN agency
Gazans are eating the looted food 'on the spot', according to a UN agency - Kosay Al Nemer/REUTERS

Aid trucks going into Gaza are being looted out of “utter desperation” as they drive through what is now being described as a “death zone”.

Dozens of Gazans can be seen clambering over a moving open-top lorry and grabbing large bags of flour in one video posted online. Drivers also sometimes face beatings, according to one NGO.

Jonathan Fowler, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said: “In most cases, when food does get taken directly from convoys, it’s because of utter desperation, with people even eating it on the spot.”

The situation is particularly critical in northern Gaza, where an estimated 300,000 people are living with very little assistance. Acute malnutrition has already been identified in more than 16 per cent of children there, above the threshold considered critical, according to the UN.

‘Complete chaos and violence’

This week, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said it had been forced to pause deliveries to the area because of “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order”.

Two separate convoys faced looters and gunfire, with one driver being beaten, according to WFP.

Cindy McCain, the WFP’s executive director, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday: “We’ve had to make the impossible choice to pause aid distributions in northern Gaza. There’s an incredible level of desperation against the backdrop of immense humanitarian need.

“A famine doesn’t have to happen. But if things don’t change, it will,” she added.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, said this week: “Gaza has become a death zone.”

Some of the lootings have have reportedly involved organised and armed gangs
Some of the lootings have reportedly involved organised and armed gangs - Fatima Shbair/AP Photo

The lootings began about a month ago but have increased in the past few weeks as fewer aid trucks have entered Gaza. Most appear to be spontaneous, although some have reportedly involved organised and armed gangs.

WFP has urged Israel to open its northern border crossing with Gaza to allow more aid to enter the area instead of being funnelled through Rafah, which borders Egypt.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Middle East, told the FT: “Lawlessness breeds lawlessness. If we were able to secure a regular supply, and people saw trucks coming in all the time, they wouldn’t worry that ‘this may be my only chance to feed my family’.”

The northernmost border was, however, destroyed by Hamas and other terrorists on Oct 7 when they stormed the Erez crossing.

Israel said it had helped facilitate the airdrop of four tons of humanitarian aid by Britain and Jordan into northern Gaza on Wednesday.

The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories said on Thursday: “The aid included medicines, fuel, and food for the Jordanian hospital in Gaza.

“There is no limit to the amount of medical supplies that can enter Gaza, including anaesthetics and other medical needs. We coordinated and facilitated medical supplies for everyday medical necessities as well as for specific medical needs, such as a large variety of vaccines,” it added.

Israel has insisted it is not restricting aid flows, and has instead criticised the UN for not being able to handle delivery logistics.

The country has also accused Hamas of stealing 60 per cent of the humanitarian aid being brought in. It has not presented evidence to support that claim.