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Asia Pacific Report

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should act urgently to establish an international protection force to safeguard Palestinian civilians and ensure the unobstructed delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza as a last-ditch attempt to prevent imminent, says DAWN.

If the UNSC is blocked by a US veto or fails to reach consensus, the UN General Assembly should reconvene the 10th session of “Uniting for Peace” and authorise such a force itself.

Recent airdrops of aid, now with the participation of the US Air Force, are “inadequate to meet the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza”, says DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now).

It signals the availability of international military forces to help stabilise the situation.

“We urgently need the UNSC to authorise an international protection force to ensure the safe and effective delivery of food to starving Palestinian men, women, and children, just as it has done in other situations of catastrophic conflicts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of DAWN.

“Tragically, without such intervention, it has become clear that Israel will continue to deliberately block such aid, which is the sole cause of the starvation and imminent famine in Gaza.”

On February 29, at least 117 Palestinians were killed, and more than 750 others were wounded after Israeli troops opened fire on civilians gathered at a convoy of food trucks southwest of Gaza City, highlighting both the desperation of the starving civilian population and their inability to safely access humanitarian aid.

Aid delivery halted
International humanitarian organisations have halted all aid delivery to northern Gaza for nearly two weeks due to the lack of security, which is a direct result of actions and policies of the Israeli military, including targeting Palestinian police forces attempting to secure aid delivery.

The Biden administration reportedly warned Israel last week that as a direct result of its actions, “Gaza is turning into Mogadishu”.

The same day, the UN Security Council met in an emergency session called by Algeria on what is now being described as the “flour massacre,” but members failed to agree on a statement about the deaths and injuries of civilians seeking aid.

At a meeting of the UNSC last week under the auspices of UNSC Resolution 2417, UN agencies warned that at least 576,000 people in Gaza were facing famine-like conditions.

The  UN World Food Programme noted that there would be an “inevitable famine” in the besieged Palestinian enclave, amid increasing reports of children dying of starvation as Israel continued to hinder aid delivery to the population.

Gaza was seeing “the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” Carl Skau, deputy head of the World Food Programme, told the UN Security Council last week, with one child in every six under the age of two acutely malnourished.

“Civilians and aid groups have described food shortages so dire that people were turning to leaves and bird food and other types of animal feed for sustenance.”

A new World Bank report has found that Gaza’s total economic output had shriveled by more than 80 percent in the last quarter of 2023, 80 to 96 percent of Gaza’s agricultural infrastructure had been damaged or destroyed, and about 80 percent of Gazans had lost their jobs.

Since the start of the war in Gaza on October 9, Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive has killed more than 30,000, more than 10,000 of them children, and wounded more than 70,000 people.

“The whole world is watching in horror as Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians, not only impeding the delivery of aid but actually firing and killing people desperately trying to obtain a few sacks of flour,” said Whitson.

“If the international community doesn’t have the guts to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities and end this grotesque, genocidal assault on Palestinian civilians, the very least it can do is establish a UN protection force to ensure the safe delivery of aid.”

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