Human Rights Watch has released a report about conditions in Gaza. An announcement about the report is here, which includes an interesting audio clip from their senior researcher at the border about the limits on their research and the information they do have.
Here is the full report, which includes this stark account of the food situation (beginning with circumstances well before the military action):
Of the 750,000 Gazans who depend on food aid from UNRWA, 94,000 are “special hardship cases” including the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly, and the very young. Of the additional 265,000 Gazans who rely on the World Food Program (WFP) for food, 90,000 are “destitute cases” almost totally dependent on food. International humanitarian groups that provide food aid, like Oxfam, CARE and Action Against Hunger, are unable to help because Israel has barred their personnel from entering Gaza since November 4, 2008.
UNRWA’s spokesman told Human Rights Watch on January 6 that the agency’s beneficiaries last received regular food distributions on or before December 18, when UNRWA had exhausted its warehoused food supply: Israel did not allow wheat supplies to enter as scheduled on December 9 and 10, and had restricted UNRWA to bringing in 20 trucks of food aid per day over the previous month, although the agency said 50 trucks were needed. Due to Israeli restrictions, the last normal WFP food distribution occurred more than two months ago.
As of January 6, the UN reported that many Gazans could not get basic food items such as rice, flour and oil. Bakeries had not received wheat flour since the beginning of Israel’s ground operation, and only nine out of 47 bakeries in Gaza were operating. Wheat grain, essential to provide the flour, was lacking; the Karni Crossing conveyor belt could import the grain but remains closed. To exacerbate the food shortages, the lack of cash available at banks restricts Gazans’ ability to purchase food supplies.
On January 10 and 11, after resuming operations based on Israeli assurances of the security of its staff, UNRWA had distributed food to 8,763 of its 94,000 special hardship cases, as well as other deliveries, including to persons sheltering at UNRWA schools. From January 9 to 11, WFP distributed food parcels to 3,089 families, as well as other food distributions.
According to OCHA, “Although some goods are being allowed into Gaza, the reduction in the number of trucks allowed in means that agencies are not receiving the amount of goods they require to respond to the needs of the population.” As of January 12, “Many basic food items, including food for infants and malnourished children, are no longer available.”
Might explain those oh so funny pictures of livestock being smuggled through tunnels.