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Parachutes with food float over the Gaza Strip after being dropped from a C-130 Hercules transport plane of the German Air Force. Alamy Stock Photo

Seven people drown in Mediterranean trying to reach aid dropped into Gaza

The UN has warned of famine in the north of the Gaza by May without urgent intervention.

SEVEN PEOPLE HAVE drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach aid airdropped into Gaza, the territory’s health ministry had said.

Six people were also injured in yesterday’s airdrop, the Hamas-run ministry said. Hamas said a total of 18 people have now been killed in drownings or stampedes since aid airdrops to the starving north of the besieged territory began.

Israel continued to bombard Gaza today, with no sign of a let-up in the current conflict despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire”.

The resolution, which was adopted yesterday after Israel’s closest ally the United States abstained, demands an “immediate ceasefire” for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, leading to a “lasting” truce.

It also demands that Hamas and other militants free hostages that were taken during the 7 October attacks on Israel, though it does not directly link the release to a truce.

Israel has pummelled the Gaza strip for months in response to Hamas’s 7 October attacks, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The Palestinian health ministry yesterday put the Palestinian death toll at 32,333, most of them women and children. Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 are still held in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.

Vowing to destroy Hamas and free the captives, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion of the coastal territory.

Lack of aid 

Compounding the relentless bombardment of Gaza has been the lack of aid reaching the area.

Aid groups say only a fraction of the supplies required to meet basic humanitarian needs have arrived in Gaza since October, while the UN has warned of famine in the north of the territory by May without urgent intervention.

The aid entering the Gaza Strip by land is far below pre-war levels, at around 150 vehicles a day compared to at least 500 before the war, according to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Israel was widely condemned in February after its soldiers reportedly opened fire on a crowd of civilians who were desperately trying to access a food convoy. Over 100 people were killed in what the region’s health ministry called a “massacre”.

More than 750 people were also injured in the attack, the Gaza health ministry said.

Israeli officials denied that their soldiers opened fire on the crowd, blaming the deaths on a stampede and saying warning shots had been fired.

Witness accounts of the killings contradict those denials and political leaders around the world directly condemned the attack on civilians seeking food in a warzone where people have begun to die from starvation.


With Gazans increasingly desperate, foreign governments have turned to airdrops, in particular in the hard-to-reach northern parts of the territory including Gaza City.

On Sunday, the chief of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, said that Israel had definitively barred it from making aid deliveries into northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said on X that blocking UNRWA aid deliveries was “in fact denying starving people the ability to survive”.

Earlier Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an end to the “non-stop nightmare” endured by Gaza’s 2.4 million people in the territory’s worst-ever war.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called the decision to block UNRWA convoys “totally unacceptable” and said “it is absolutely essential to have massive supply of humanitarian aid now, this means opening more entry points”.

During a visit to Jordan’s Wihdat refugee camp in the capital Amman, United Nations chief Antonio GuterresGuterres said it would be “cruel and incomprehensible” to halt UNRWA’s vital services to Palestinian refugees across the region.

His remarks come as the agency faces a financing crisis after some key donor countries cut off funding following Israeli accusations that several UNRWA staff in Gaza were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. 

The United Nations has launched both an internal and an independent investigation but has said Israel has not provided it with any evidence to support the claims against its staff.

With reporting from AFP