UN stops all food distribution in Rafah after running out of supplies in Gaza City

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations has suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to a lack of supplies and insecurity. He also said no aid trucks have entered in the past two days through a floating dock established by the United States for maritime deliveries.

The UN has not specified how many people remain in Rafah after the Israeli army launched an intensified assault there on May 6, but there appear to be several hundred thousand people.

Abeer Etefa, spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme, warned that “humanitarian operations in Gaza are on the brink of collapse.” If food and other supplies do not re-enter Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread,” he said.

The warning came as Israel seeks to contain the fallout from a request by the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes court to Arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders, a measure supported by three European countries, including its key ally France. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. for the alleged “use of starvation as a method of war,” an accusation they and other Israeli officials angrily deny. The prosecutor charged three Hamas leaders with war crimes for killing civilians in the group’s Oct. 7 attack.

The humanitarian supply crisis has escalated in the two weeks since Israel launched a raid on Rafah on May 6, vowing to root out Hamas fighters. Troops seized the Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since. As of May 10, only about three dozen trucks reached Gaza through the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel because fighting makes access difficult for aid workers, the UN says.

The lead agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, announced the suspension of distribution in Rafah in a post on Day X, without providing further details beyond citing a lack of supplies.

Etefa said the WFP had also stopped distribution in Rafah after exhausting its stock. It continues to deliver hot meals in central Gaza and “limited distributions” of reduced food parcels in central Gaza, but “stocks of food parcels will run out in a few days,” she said.

Etefa said 10 trucks entered the US-made dock on Friday and were taken to its warehouse in central Gaza. But a crowd of Palestinians carrying supplies stopped a Saturday delivery of 11 trucks and only five trucks arrived at the warehouse. No more deliveries arrived from the dock on Sunday or Monday, he said.

The UN says that around 1.1 million people in Gaza – almost half the population – face catastrophic levels of hunger and that the territory is on the brink of famine.

As of early May, around 1.3 million people were crammed into Rafah after fleeing the Israeli offensive in other parts of the territory. At least 810,000 of them have fled since Israel launched its raid on the city. Those fleeing have fanned out across southern Gaza, setting up sprawling tent camps or crowding into U.N. schools that have already been severely damaged by Israel’s previous offensives.

While no one faces imminent arrest due to the ICC’s move, the announcement deepens Israel’s global isolation at a time when it faces growing criticism from even its closest allies over the war in Gaza.

Belgium, Slovenia and France said on Monday they supported the decision by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan. His support exposes the divisions in the West’s attitude toward Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz traveled to France on Tuesday in response, and his meetings there could set the tone for how countries handle the orders – if they are eventually issued – and whether they could pose a threat to Israeli leaders.

Israel still has the support of its main ally, the United States, as well as other Western countries that spoke out against the decision. But if the orders are issued, they could complicate the international travel of Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, even if they face no immediate risk of prosecution because Israel itself is is not a member of the court.

The prosecutor also sought court orders for Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh. The West already considers Hamas an international terrorist group. Both Sinwar and Deif are believed to be hiding in Gaza. But Haniyeh, the Islamic militant group’s supreme leader, is based in Qatar and travels frequently in the region. Qatar, like Israel, is not a member of the ICC.

As Israeli leaders grappled with the prosecutor’s decision, violence continued in the region, with an Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank killing at least seven Palestinians, including a local doctor, according to Palestinian health officials.

In a statement Monday night regarding the injunction requests, France said it “supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations.”

“France has been warning for many months about the imperative of strict compliance with international humanitarian law and, in particular, about the unacceptable nature of civilian losses in the Gaza Strip and the insufficient humanitarian access,” says the French statement, which has a large Jewish community. and close commercial and diplomatic ties with Israel.

The war between began. on October 7, when militants led by Hamas He crossed into Israel and killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 hostages. Khan accused Hamas leaders of crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder and sexual violence.

Israel responded with an offensive that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between non-combatants and combatants in its count. The war has sparked a humanitarian crisis that has displaced much of the coastal enclave’s population and pushed parts of it into famine, which Khan said Israel used as a “method of war.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said Monday in a post on the social media platform

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders condemned the prosecutor’s move as shameful and anti-Semitic. US President Joe Biden also lashed out at the prosecutor and supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. The United Kingdom called the move “unhelpful,” saying the ICC has no jurisdiction in the case, while Israel’s ally the Czech Republic called Khan’s decision “appalling and completely unacceptable.”

TO a panel of three judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow the case to proceed. Judges usually take two months to make those decisions.

Experts warned that any court order could complicate relations between Israel and even allies who condemned the move.

Yuval Kaplinsky, a former senior official in Israel’s Justice Ministry, said countries that are part of the tribunal would be obliged to arrest Netanyahu or Gallant if they visit, although he said some of those countries could find legal loopholes that could help them avoid it. .

“They would rather Netanyahu not visit them than have him visit London and have the whole world watch as he avoids extradition,” Kaplinsky said.

Since the war began, violence has also burned in the occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday, an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp and the adjacent city of Jenin killed at least seven Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The army said its forces attacked militants during the operation, while the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters fought Israeli forces.

However, according to Wissam Abu Baker, director of the Jenin Government Hospital, the medical center’s surgical specialist, Ossayed Kamal Jabareen, was among the dead. They killed him as he was on his way to work, Abu Baker said.

Jenin and the refugee camp, considered a hotbed of militancy, have been frequent targets of Israeli raidslong before Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza broke out.

Since the start of the war, nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed in fighting in the West Bank, many of them militants, as well as others who threw stones or explosives at troops. Other people who did not participate in the clashes have also been killed.

Israel says it is cracking down on growing militancy in the territory, pointing to a rise in attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. It has arrested more than 3,000 Palestinians since the start of the war in Gaza.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, along with east Jerusalem, which it later annexed, and the Gaza Strip, from which it withdrew troops and settlers in 2005. Palestinians seek those territories as part of their future independent state, hopes that they have eased since the war broke out in Gaza.

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Goldenberg reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press journalists Majdi Mohammed in the Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, Jack Jeffery in Jerusalem, John Leicester in Paris and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.