World Food Programme warns of imminent famine in northern Gaza


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The organisation’s warning follows growing calls for Israel to take ‘appropriate’ action against those involved in killing seven aid workers in drone strikes in Gaza on 1 April.

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) staff killed include Australian Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, Polish Damian Sobol and British James Kirby, John Chapman, James Henderson. They were travelling with Palestinian interpreter Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha.

Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said the killing was a ”tragedy”, that the IDF takes ”full responsibility” for it and was the result of a ”misidentification” in complex conditions.

”This operational misidentification and misclassification was the result of internal failures that led to a critical information regarding the humanitarian operation to not go properly down to the chain of command,” Hagari said.

On Friday, an internal investigation led to the dismissal of two officers and reprimanding of three others. The IDF said they had mishandled critical information and violated the army’s rules of engagement.

An aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid over northern Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel

The WCK has called for an independent investigation.

The charity said it had been authorised by the Israeli military to transfer aid supplies. Three vehicles that were moving at large distances apart were hit in succession.

The Australian government wants Israel to preserve all evidence from its investigation of the strike to allow for further scrutiny if required. 

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her government expects ”full accountability” from Israel.

”This has been a deadly failure of deconfliction. It cannot be brushed aside, and it cannot be covered over,” she said.

Amid outrage over the incident, Israel said it would also take steps to increase the flow of humanitarian aid, including temporarily reopening a key border crossing into northern Gaza.

The United States and its allies continued to airdrop humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians in the isolated northern part of Gaza Strip.

The WFP said overall, the number of people in Gaza facing catastrophic hunger has doubled in less than three months, going from 570,000 in December to 1.1 million today.

It said it is providing food to more than one million people in the besieged territory each month, despite enormous challenges.

Most food is distributed in southern and central Gaza, and very little assistance reaches people elsewhere.

WFP said it needs humanitarian staff and supplies to be able to move freely and safely across Gaza. It urged Israel to allow more routes into Gaza, including from the north, and use of Ashdod port.

To really have a chance of beating back famine, WHO insists it needs a humanitarian ceasefire.

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