UN aid convoy attacked by Israeli Navy in Gaza, jeopardizing humanitarian efforts

This incident not only disrupts the flow of crucial aid, but also casts a long shadow over the ethical obligations and legal frameworks governing conflict zones.

Image Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

In a disconcerting breach of agreed-upon protocols, the Israeli navy targeted a United Nations convoy tasked with delivering essential aid to Gaza’s northern territories. Documented by UNRWA and substantiated by a CNN investigation, this incident on Feb. 5 underscores the peril faced by humanitarian workers in one of the world’s most volatile aid landscapes.

“A convoy that had food on it, heading to the northern parts of the Gaza Strip. That convoy on its way in what we call the middle areas, it got hit. One of the trucks carrying supplies was hit by Israeli naval fire,” Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s global director of communications, detailed the meticulous coordination with Israel’s COGAT agency that precedes such missions.

Despite assurances, the convoy—a lifeline comprising 10 trucks laden with supplies and two armored vehicles bearing the UN insignia—came under fire. The resulting damage not only endangered the crew, but also squandered vital wheat flour, exacerbating the hunger crisis in northern Gaza where malnutrition grips the vulnerable.

“We share with the Israeli army the coordinates of the convoys, and the route of that convoy,” Touma revealed. “Only when the Israeli army gives us the okay, the green light, does UNRWA move. We don’t move without that coordination.” This assault jeopardizes not just immediate aid efforts but also the broader mission of sustaining life amidst dire shortages.

Following this harrowing encounter, UNRWA has ceased its northern Gaza aid missions, signaling a grave setback in addressing the region’s acute humanitarian needs. The decision reflects the escalating dangers aid workers face, now marking Gaza among the most perilous locations for humanitarian efforts globally.

CNN’s investigative efforts corroborated the attack’s origins, linking it to naval gunfire from Israeli vessels stationed offshore. This act raises profound legal and ethical concerns, especially in light of recent judicial scrutiny over Israel’s military conduct in Gaza.

The broader ramifications of such incidents extend beyond immediate risks, challenging the integrity of international humanitarian law and the global community’s commitment to safeguarding humanitarian missions.

“In the wake of the strike on February 5, UNRWA has halted aid deliveries to northern Gaza,” the agency announced, marking a somber moment in the struggle to feed Gaza’s most vulnerable.

UNRWA’s head legal advisor for Gaza, Philippa Greer, reflected on the incident: “We were extremely lucky no one was injured.”

Despite the attack, the convoy sought passage through an Israeli-controlled checkpoint into northern Gaza, only to be denied entry, further complicating the dire situation.

COGAT maintains a strict stance on entry, asserting, “Items deemed ‘harmful’ are blocked from entry.” This policy underscores the complex dynamics at play in facilitating aid amidst ongoing conflict. This incident not only disrupts the flow of crucial aid, but also casts a long shadow over the ethical obligations and legal frameworks governing conflict zones.

“Israel facilitates entry of any and all humanitarian aid with special emphasis on food into the Gaza Strip following a process of supervision and control to ensure that indeed the goods being transported are humanitarian aid and not other materials that will be harmful to Israel’s security,” COGAT stated.


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Jordan Atwood is a dynamic War and Politics Reporter known for his incisive analysis and comprehensive coverage of international conflicts and political landscapes. His work is driven by a commitment to uncovering the truth and providing a clear, informed understanding of complex geopolitical events. Jordan's reporting not only captures the realities of war but also delves into the political strategies and implications behind them, making his work essential for those seeking a deeper understanding of world affairs.