UN halts aid operations in Gaza over security concerns amid Israeli assault

WFP Director Cindy McCain announced the decision on Sunday, highlighting the attack on two of the agency's warehouses and the injury of a staff member during an Israeli military operation.

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Image Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has paused its distribution of humanitarian aid from an American-built pier in Gaza, citing safety concerns following one of the deadliest days in the ongoing conflict. WFP Director Cindy McCain announced the decision on Sunday, highlighting the attack on two of the agency’s warehouses and the injury of a staff member during an Israeli military operation.

The decision to halt aid operations came after a brutal Israeli assault aimed at rescuing four hostages held by Hamas. The raid, which took place in the Nuseirat refugee camp, resulted in the deaths of 274 Palestinians and one Israeli commando. The intense conflict and subsequent security concerns prompted the WFP to reassess its operations in the region.

McCain, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” expressed her concerns for the safety of WFP staff following the rocket attacks on the warehouses. “We’ve stepped back for the moment to make sure that we’re on safe terms and on safe ground before we restart,” she said, emphasizing the need for a secure environment for aid workers.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) described the pause as necessary to conduct a security review in collaboration with humanitarian partners in Gaza. The American-built pier, completed in mid-May, had faced multiple operational challenges, including storm damage that temporarily halted its use. The pier had only recently resumed operations, bringing in significant aid before the latest suspension.

A Pentagon spokesperson indicated that aid deliveries are expected to resume soon, pending the outcome of the security review. The situation underscores the complexities and risks involved in delivering humanitarian aid in conflict zones, where the safety of aid workers and the integrity of humanitarian missions are constantly under threat.

The Israeli military operation that led to the rescue of the hostages has drawn international attention and condemnation. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called for an immediate end to the bloodshed, highlighting reports of civilian casualties and stressing the urgency of international humanitarian law compliance.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has called for an investigation into allegations that the Israeli military used a humanitarian aid truck in the operation, citing potential violations of international humanitarian law. The Monitor emphasized that using civilian or humanitarian disguises in military operations is illegal and undermines the trust in and safety of humanitarian workers.

As the security review proceeds, the humanitarian community in Gaza is working to ensure that aid operations can resume safely. The temporary halt has further highlighted the precarious situation in Gaza, where the need for food, medical supplies, and other essential aid is critical. Humanitarian organizations continue to advocate for a ceasefire and a reliable, secure means of delivering aid to the besieged population.

The situation in Gaza remains dire, with over a million people facing severe food shortages and other humanitarian crises. Cindy McCain highlighted the urgent need for a ceasefire to facilitate the safe and effective delivery of aid. “The bottom line here is, I make choices every day to take food from the hungry to give to the starving,” McCain said. “We need a ceasefire, we need it now so [famine] doesn’t happen in the south.”

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