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More than 2,000 tonnes of British food aid has arrived in Gaza to be distributed by UN agencies amid warnings that more than 1 million Palestinians are facing the prospect of famine amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron last night stepped up his call for Israel to let more aid into Gaza, adding that the largest British aid package so far can only feed some 275,000 people.

Lord Cameron said ‘sustained humanitarian access’ to Gaza’s beleaguered population was needed after a report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), an organisation that determines the severity of food crises, has warned that ‘famine is imminent’.

‘It’s crucial that we keep the flow of aid moving into Gaza to end the suffering, and that’s why this latest delivery of aid by WFP is so vitally important,’ Lord Cameron said.

‘The IPC’s report warns of imminent famine. We need sustained humanitarian access by road to get more aid in.

‘We continue to push Israel to allow more crossings to open and for longer, and for healthcare, water and sanitation to be restored.’

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the punishing military operation in Gaza and is set to press ahead with a planned invasion of Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah – one of the last major towns not targeted by a ground assault.

More than 2,000 tonnes of British food aid arrives in Gaza amid warnings of ‘imminent famine’ as defiant Netanyahu says he is ‘determined’ to press on with Rafah assault

Palestinians hold empty containers to receive food, distributed by aid organizations, on the holy month of Ramadan as Israeli attacks continue at Jabalia refugee camp in Jabalia, Gaza on March 18, 2024

Palestinians hold empty containers to receive food, distributed by aid organizations, on the holy month of Ramadan as Israeli attacks continue at Jabalia refugee camp in Jabalia, Gaza on March 18, 2024

Palestinians hold empty containers to receive food, distributed by aid organizations, on the holy month of Ramadan as Israeli attacks continue at Jabalia refugee camp in Jabalia, Gaza on March 18, 2024

Palestinians queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza City on March 17, 2024

Palestinians queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza City on March 17, 2024

Palestinians crowd together as they wait for food distribution in Rafah

Palestinians crowd together as they wait for food distribution in Rafah

A worker sorts flour bags during the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza City on March 17, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas

A worker sorts flour bags during the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza City on March 17, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas

A batch of humanitarian aid convoys for Palestinians arrive at UNRWA warehouse in Jabalia, Gaza on March 17, 2024

A batch of humanitarian aid convoys for Palestinians arrive at UNRWA warehouse in Jabalia, Gaza on March 17, 2024

People pass by the damaged Burj al-Masri building and the surroundings after Israeli attacks in Rafah City of Gaza on March 18, 2024

People pass by the damaged Burj al-Masri building and the surroundings after Israeli attacks in Rafah City of Gaza on March 18, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the punishing military operation in Gaza and is set to press ahead with a planned invasion of Gaza's southernmost town, Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the punishing military operation in Gaza and is set to press ahead with a planned invasion of Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah

The delivery of UK-funded aid to Gaza includes fortified wheat flour for use in bakeries and food parcels which will be used to feed more than 275,000 people in Gaza.

Each food parcel is designed for a family of five and consists of canned vegetables, meat and fish, and date bars.

The parcel can meet half of the daily calorie needs of the family for 15 days.

But virtually every resident in Gaza is struggling to get enough food and 1.1 million people – half the population – are expected to face the highest level of severe hunger in coming weeks, according to the IPC report. 

On Monday, the group warned that famine could occur in Gaza any time between mid-March and May without an end to hostilities and immediate access to essential supplies and services.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said Israel was blocking aid and conducting the conflict in a way that ‘may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war’.

Footage from Gaza showed desperate crowds gathered at the Jabalia refugee camp to get a portion of carrot soup.

‘We came to queue, but they threw us out,’ Jabalia resident Musaab al-Masry told reporters, lamenting that there was not enough food for everyone.

The dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza have prompted some Israeli allies to cease arms shipments. 

Canada, a key ally of the United States, which provides Israel with billions of dollars a year in military aid, had already reduced its weapons shipments to Israel to non-lethal equipment such as radios following the October 7 Hamas attack,

But Canadian official told AFP yesterday: ‘The situation on the ground makes it so that we can’t export any kind of military equipment,’ while Canada’s foreign minister Melanie Joly told the Toronto Star newspaper that Ottawa would stop future arms exports to Israel.

Meanwhile, in their first phone call in a month on Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Netanyahu not to carry out a Rafah operation, urging ‘an alternative approach’ to more precisely target Hamas fighters there.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has expressed concern over attacking Rafah because more than a million people from across Gaza have crowded into the area. 

U.N. officials have warned of a massive death toll and the potential collapse of the humanitarian aid effort if troops moved into Rafah.

Netanyahu agreed to send a team of Israeli officials to Washington to discuss Rafah with Biden administration officials.

But on Tuesday, he told a parliamentary committee that while he would listen to U.S. proposals ‘out of respect’ to Biden, ‘we are determined to complete the elimination of these (Hamas) battalions in Rafah, and there is no way to do this without a ground incursion.’

This photo provided by World Central Kitchen shows food packages been loaded on a track at a makeshift port on the Gaza Strip, Saturday, March 16, 2024

This photo provided by World Central Kitchen shows food packages been loaded on a track at a makeshift port on the Gaza Strip, Saturday, March 16, 2024

A man pours soup to empty containers of Palestinians, waiting to receive food distributed by aid organizations, on the holy month of Ramadan as Israeli attacks continue at Jabalia refugee camp in Jabalia

A man pours soup to empty containers of Palestinians, waiting to receive food distributed by aid organizations, on the holy month of Ramadan as Israeli attacks continue at Jabalia refugee camp in Jabalia

Palestinians make Qatayef, a folded pancake dessert, traditionally prepared during the holy month of Ramadan on March 18, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza

Palestinians make Qatayef, a folded pancake dessert, traditionally prepared during the holy month of Ramadan on March 18, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza

Palestinians wait in front of the United Nations (UN) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) distribution centre

Palestinians wait in front of the United Nations (UN) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) distribution centre

Men carry bags of flour after humanitarian aid was distributed in Gaza City on March 17, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas

Men carry bags of flour after humanitarian aid was distributed in Gaza City on March 17, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas

A view of the area after Israeli attack over an apartment building in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 16, 2024

A view of the area after Israeli attack over an apartment building in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 16, 2024

As Israeli military chiefs plan their operation in Rafah, IDF troops were pressing an assault on Gaza’s biggest hospital, which they allege Hamas uses for military purposes, saying more than 50 fighters had been killed and around 300 suspects arrested and taken for questioning.

Lashing out over the Israeli operation at the Al-Shifa complex, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of seeking to ‘sow chaos and perpetuate violence’ and ‘sabotage ongoing negotiations’.

Israel has long accused militants of using hospitals as bases and troops previously raided Al-Shifa last November, sparking an international outcry.

Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said this week that Palestinian militants and commanders had since returned to Al-Shifa ‘and turned it into a command centre’.

An army statement late Tuesday said ‘dozens of prominent terrorists’ from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were among those arrested in the operation.

Witnesses reported air strikes and tanks near the hospital compound, which is crowded with thousands of displaced civilians, as well as the sick and wounded.

The Gaza Health Ministry said Monday that at least 31,726 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive. 

The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, but it says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people in Hamas’ October 7 attack into southern Israel that triggered the war and took another 250 people hostage. 

Hamas is still believed to be holding about 100 captives, as well as the remains of 30 others, after most of the rest were freed during a cease-fire last year.



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