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World Food Program says IDF blocked trucks delivering food to Gaza

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
1 of 4 | Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

March 6 (UPI) -- The World Food Program said its delivery of crucial aid into Gaza was blocked by Israeli authorities as the U.N. reports starvation among Palestinian civilians.

The United Nations organization said on Tuesday that a convoy of 14 trucks carrying food to northern Gaza was turned away by the Israel Defence Forces after waiting three hours at a checkpoint in Wadi Gaza.

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"Although today's convoy did not make it to the north to provide food to the people who are starving, WFP continues to explore every possible means to do so," WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Saku said.

The WFP said after the trucks were turned away and rerouted they were "stopped by a large crowd of desperate people" who took about 200 tons of food.

The convoy was the first effort by the WFP to deliver aid to northern Gaza after it had suspended deliveries on Feb. 20 saying other aid deliveries at the time were subject to looting as well as "complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order."

The WFP says the Royal Jordanian air dropped six tons of food supplies into northern Gaza, but noted that ground deliveries are necessary to transport large quantities of food.

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"Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. We need entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need," said Skau.

A U.N. World Health Organization report released Friday found that 10 children have died from dehydration and malnutrition in Gaza hospitals and that the number of starvation deaths is likely higher.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health said that at least 15 children had died from dehydration and malnutrition at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.

The blocking of the convoy Tuesday comes after at least 117 Palestinians were killed on Thursday as Israeli forces allegedly opened fire while awaiting a delivery of food aid by private contractors.

Israel Defense Forces said those hurt and killed were victims of a "stampede" as people rushed for food.

France, Germany and Italy on Friday joined the United Nations in calling for an independent probe into the incident.

The Gaza Ministry of Health on Wednesday said the death toll in Gaza had reached 30,717 with 72,156 injured since Oct. 7.

The WFP on Tuesday said that a cease-fire was "urgently needed" to enable food aid delivery operations of the necessary size.

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"With greater safety for humanitarian staff to move food and other supplies regularly throughout the Strip and with routes in the North, WFP and its partners can prevent famine," it said.

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