Israel-Palestine conflict: 4 or 5 days of food left at Gaza shops, says WFP

People are lining up for hours to get bread, with only five bakeries out of 23 in operation


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Published: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 6:21 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 6:26 PM

The UN's World Food Programme said the food situation in the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip was worsening, with only four or five days of stocks left in the shops.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said stocks were getting low in warehouses inside the Palestinian enclave, but at the shop level, the situation was even more acute.

"The situation in Gaza is getting worse by the minute: the humanitarian situation but also, of course, the food security situation," WFP's Middle East spokesperson Abeer Etefa told reporters at the UN in Geneva via video-link from Cairo.

"The current stocks of essential food commodities are sufficient for only two weeks — and that's at the wholesalers' level," she said, with the warehouses located in Gaza City in the north of the territory and shops having difficulties replenishing supplies.

"Inside the shops, the stocks are getting close to less than a few days, maybe four or five days of food stocks left."

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Gaza-based Hamas fighters broke through Israel's heavily fortified border on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians. Israel says at least 199 hostages were taken by Hamas or other groups during the raid.

Israel has responded with withering air strikes on Hamas-controlled Gaza and by deploying tens of thousands of troops to the border in preparation for a full-scale ground offensive.

Israel has demanded that residents of north Gaza leave for the south, hoping to clear the area of civilians in preparation for a perilous urban ground assault.

Etefa said that out of five flour mills in the Gaza Strip, only one was operating due to security concerns and the unavailability of fuel.

"So the bread supply is running low and people are lining up for hours to get bread," she said.

Only five bakeries out of 23 in Gaza contracted by WFP were still in operation, she added.

"Our food supplies within Gaza are running really short," said Etefa.

The spokeswoman said there has been no looting of WFP warehouses, and "anyway, whatever we have left in the warehouses is so little".

Aid agencies have been flying supplies into El Arish airport in Egypt — around 20km away from the Rafah border crossing and the only one into the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel.

So far Egypt has kept the crossing closed to aid going in or foreign nationals trying to flee, as Israel has repeatedly struck the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Etefa said the WFP had mobilised over 300 metric tonnes of food that was either at or on its way to the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip — enough food to feed around 250,000 people for one week.

"Everyone is still very hopeful that we will be able to get inside and this is why more supplies are on the way," she said.

"We call for unimpeded access, safe passage for desperately needed humanitarian supplies into Gaza."

The UN's humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths was due to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday on a visit to the region, expected to last several days, to negotiate aid access to the Gaza Strip.

He is set to go to Israel, and, if conditions permit, to the Palestinian territories, a spokesman said.


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