Gazans say that they are buying food donations marked as being not for sale, while videos show armed men appearing to commandeer trucks earmarked for humanitarian aid as the United Nations issued a dire report about the state of hunger in Gaza.
Gazan influencer Hossam Wail posted a video of himself on Instagram with a package of “High Energy Biscuits” featuring the United Nations World Food Program’s logo and the message “Not for Sale.” He said that he purchased the humanitarian donation package for the equivalent of about $1.50.
The WFP’s Middle East and North Africa branch commented on Wail’s post that it “takes the unauthorized selling of its humanitarian food assistance seriously” and, “In times of immense hardship, everywhere around the world, some families face incredibly tough choices and may personally decide to sell their share of humanitarian assistance for other essential items they urgently need.”
WFP senior spokesperson Steve Taravella told Just the News, “Any theft of food assistance meant to feed hungry families is unacceptable,” and, “We do all we can to make sure food reaches only those for whom it’s intended.”
Israel said Tuesday that more than 4,750 humanitarian aid trucks have entered the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, when the war began in the region after terrorists entered Israel and killed about 1,200 people and kidnapped approximately 240 others.
About 59 aid trucks have entered Gaza on average every day since Oct. 7, but this is significantly lower than before the Hamas-led slaughter of Israeli citizens, when several hundred food and goods trucks would enter Gaza each day, WFP senior spokesperson Steve Taravella told Just the News.
“Other areas have been threatened by famine in recent years – Somalia, Ethiopia and north-eastern Nigeria come to mind – but the increase in hunger in Gaza is unprecedented in its swiftness, its severity and in its scale,” Taravella said.
Currently, 93% of Gazans have food consumption gaps or are only marginally able to meet their minimum food needs, according to an intergovernmental report last week from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The IPC describes itself as a global multi-partner initiative, providing information on the scale and severity of food insecurity in global efforts to improve food security and nutrition analysis.
Experts with the IPC warn that people in the Gaza Strip are expected to be at risk of famine within the next six months if the conflict persists.
“Tragically, without the safe, consistent access we have been calling for, the situation is desperate, and no one in Gaza is safe from starvation,” World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain, wife of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, said. She also called for a ceasefire in the region, which seems highly unlikely as both Israel and Hamas reportedly rejected the latest proposed truce from Egypt this week.
Recently, promising progress was made in partnership with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, as the WFP delivered 46 trucks one day last week through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Israel to Gaza.
“This could pave the way for a sustained corridor that would allow humanitarian assistance to scale up in a way that was not possible with one border crossing,” Taravella said, referring to the other Gaza crossing from Egypt. “Being able to deliver aid from Jordan will enable WFP and others to bring in more desperately needed assistance, as it allows aid to be procured faster and to tap into additional markets.”
However, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said that Israel has the “capacity to inspect more than twice as many aid trucks as are entering Gaza,” and is currently pumping potable water into Gaza through two pipelines, but the aid is being hijacked.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, meanwhile, blamed the United Nations last week for a lack of aid getting into Gaza. He said that three times as much aid could reach needy Gazans “if the U.N., instead of complaining all day, would do its job.”
While 386 WFP trucks have entered Gaza through Egypt since the war broke out, 280 trucks are fully loaded with food and ready to cross into Gaza, according to WFP’s Taravella.
The challenges of getting aid trucks into the war-torn territory range from the political to logistical to security-related problems. For example, Israel has a complicated process of checking trucks to ensure that they do not contain weapons, and even when the trucks arrive, conditions must be safe to distribute food. More than 140 U.N. workers have been killed since Oct. 7, as have more than 20,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.
COGAT, the Israeli body that oversees Palestinian affairs, has announced “tactical pauses for humanitarian purposes” in Israeli military operations at least 10 of the past 13 days. The agency has also posted videos on X showing Gazan markets full of fresh produce being sold.
Videos have also circulated on social media showing aid trucks in Gaza being controlled by armed men, but it is unclear whether the men are affiliated with Hamas or a different terror group in the region.
Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said earlier this month: “People are stopping aid trucks, taking the food, and eating it right away. This is how desperate and hungry they are. … This has nothing to do with aid diversion. This has to do with a total despair that people are expressing in the Gaza Strip.”
Other videos show trucks being attacked by Gazan youths, who throw the food aid on the ground as it passes by.
The WFP works to ensure that aid reaches its intended destination, but in desperate situations, some food may be taken by external actors, per Taravella.
“We apply rigorous monitoring systems to ensure that food distributions are managed safely and that WFP teams can access hard-to-reach areas. But we also recognize that in times of war, when people are desperate in so many extraordinary conditions at once – their homes gone, loved ones killed, lack of food, absence of fuel, cut-off of electricity and internet, etc. – a small amount of food diversion will sometimes occur,” Taravella said.
“We must understand that people in Gaza are desperate by any measure right now – and desperate people are forced to turn to desperate means to survive. These are people struggling for their very lives, not knowing if a bomb attack will end theirs at any moment. The fear and anguish on the faces of those pouncing on aid trucks says it all,” he added.
Hamas responded to a crowd of people attempting to take goods from an aid truck by opening fire on Sunday, according to Israeli outlet Abu Ali Express.
Hamas police reportedly fatally shot a young boy in the Gaza Strip on Sunday when he approached an aid truck. Clashes then broke out between police and civilians, with a crowd setting the Hamas police station on fire, according to Israel’s Channel 12 News.
The problems are not limited to U.N. food donations.
Gazan influencer Muhammad Smiry posted pictures this month on X, formerly Twitter, with the caption, “Someone was selling these biscuits. The price is 4 shekels, expensive, Had to buy it as the only thing I ate today!”
The biscuits appear to be in the same package as those donated to needy Gazans by the United States Agency for International Development, which posted a picture of the biscuits last month on Instagram. Neither USAID nor Smiry responded to Just the News’ requests for comment.