Main SliderMiddle East

Infographics: After eight months of war, here’s what Gaza’s humanitarian crisis looks like

Rachel Wilson and Sana Noor Haq

Raed Redwan shades his three-month-old baby from the heat and shoos away insects in a tent in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.

They are trapped, along with his wife and mother, in a sea of displaced families with little respite from overcrowding and pollution. The Palestinian father told CNN he struggles to find aid. Instead, he and his family have no choice but to drink contaminated water and eat just one meal per day.

“I don’t want to talk about food because there is none,” he said in a written message on June 5. “We survived the death from rockets and shelling; will we die of famine?

After eight months of Israel’s bombardment in Gaza — following the October 7 attacks led by the militant group Hamas that killed around 1,200 people and captured 250 hostages in southern Israel — human rights groups have described “unspeakable” living conditions for Palestinians in the enclave, with over 75% of the population displaced, according to the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). Israel’s military campaign has pulverized neighborhoods, damaged health infrastructure and depleted food, water and fuel supplies.

Aid has been delivered to Gaza by land, sea and air since the war began, but very few entry points remain operational

Out of five land crossings, only two — Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom and Western Erez — are currently open for aid trucks despite humanitarian agencies warning that land routes are the quickest and most effective way of getting aid into Gaza at scale. Efforts to bring aid via sea have also been halted by recent damage to the pier.

Note: Data as of June 5, 2024 – Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Israel Defense Forces. Graphic: Rachel Wilson and Lou Robinson, CNN.

The Israeli offensive has killed at least 36,654 Palestinians and injured another 83,309 people, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. CNN cannot independently confirm these figures.

While Israeli officials have insisted there is no limit on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, the UN has accused authorities of imposing “unlawful restrictions” on relief operations such as blocked land routes, communications blackouts and air strikes. Local staffers told CNN they are forced to turn away the needy at distribution points because there is not enough relief to hand out.

Here is a breakdown of how the aid crisis has deepened in the territory after 245 days of war.

Crossing closures nearly halt all aid

Israel’s restrictions on land routes into Gaza meant aid was barely trickling into the strip. But the crisis became even more dire early last month, after Israeli forces launched an assault in the southern city of Rafah and seized control of the Palestinian side of the land crossing into Egypt.

The UN’s food agency said ongoing attacks have blocked access to its main warehouse in Rafah since May 9, forcing them to suspend distributions there for nearly a month now. The agency expressed concerns for Palestinians in the south as the closure of the key Rafah crossing has severely limited food supplies reaching the area, recalling the dire food insecurity in northern Gaza after previous closures. Similarly, US-based non-profit World Central Kitchen paused operations at its main facility in Rafah and relocated north last week.

Aid into Gaza plummeted and remains at a trickle after key crossing closed in early May

The Rafah crossing, which served as a major truck gateway for aid and limited commercial goods, has been shuttered since May 5. The only crossing still open in southern Gaza is Kerem Shalom, though very few trucks have been able to pass through per day since Israel’s ground offensive in Rafah began.

Trucks entering Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, 7-day rolling average

Note: Data as of June 3, 2024. Data up to May 5 includes trucks carrying both humanitarian aid and commercial goods for sale. From May 6 onward, data only includes humanitarian aid cargo as the UN has not been able to maintain presence at both crossings to track commercial activity.

Adding to that, a US-led effort to create a maritime corridor into the strip was dealt a major blow after only a few operational weeks, when a $320 million makeshift pier sustained damage in stormy seas off the Gaza coast, according to the Pentagon. The pier is undergoing repairs at the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The resulting overall quantity of aid entering Gaza has since dropped by 67%, according to the UN, to a daily average of 58 trucks between May 7 and May 28. For comparison, the UN previously reported that an average 500 trucks entered the strip per day in the months before October 7.

“Everything that has been in place in the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings has now changed,” said Louise Wateridge a communications officer for UNRWA. “When these crossings have been interrupted, it’s just simply not enough coming from any other sources.”

Trucks stuck at the border

Scenes have emerged of large relief trucks piling up at the border with Gaza, after Israeli authorities ramped up inspections on relief convoys entering the strip‚ doubling down on claims that such aid could be used by Hamas.

COGAT, the Israeli agency that manages aid flow into Gaza, said on June 4 that more than 1,000 trucks are waiting to be picked up by the UN on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing – accusing the UN of failing to coordinate the entry of the vehicles into Gaza.

But rights groups say the “systematic obstruction at Israeli-controlled crossing points” and increased fighting is paralyzing truck deliveries.

Wateridge told CNN that trucks stuck at Kerem Shalom cannot be received due to intense military action on the Gazan side of the crossing. “It’s just a complete waste of vital humanitarian aid, and it’s such a manmade situation,” she said.

Of the limited aid that made it to Gaza, only around 5% were medical supplies

The number of trucks delivering medical supplies and shelter aid, such as tents and mattresses, have consistently been lower than food aid, but this non-food aid has also fallen sharply following Israel’s seizure of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing on May 7.

Share of trucks entering Gaza through Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings since October 2023

Note: Data as of June 1, 2024. No trucks have entered the Rafah crossing since May 5. Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East Graphic: Rachel Wilson, CNN

These distribution challenges come as the UN’s food agency warned in May that Palestinians in the north are under a “full-blown famine” that is spreading south. More than one million people, half of Gaza’s population, are “expected to face death and starvation” by mid-July, another UN report warned this week, as civilians struggle to find enough food amid scarce market supplies and rising prices.

More than 7,000 children under the age of five have already been diagnosed with malnutrition, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

With aid stocks in rapid decline, workers can barely meet demands on the ground, according to Mahmoud Shalabi, the senior program manager of the NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians.

‘No safe corridors’ for humanitarians

For the few aid trucks that do enter the strip, damaged roads from Israeli strikes and security concerns over ongoing hostilities are stifling attempts to reach displaced Palestinians, human rights workers told CNN.

Relief agencies have repeatedly called for new entry routes, more trucks to get through daily border checks, fewer obstacles to the movement of humanitarian workers and guarantees for their safety. Israeli attacks on aid convoys have sparked fierce condemnation from rights groups, drawing attention to growing Western skepticism of Israel’s war in Gaza.

More aid workers have been killed in Gaza in seven months than in any other conflict annually in the past 20 years

Israel’s war in Gaza has killed more than 250 humanitarian staffers since October 7. Previously, the highest number of fatalities in a single year was recorded in Syria in 2018 where 56 aid workers were killed, and in Afghanistan in 2013 where 48 were killed.

Aid workers killed during conflict in the Palestinian territories and other locations


Since October 7, Israeli forces have struck known locations of aid workers in the enclave at least eight times, despite agencies providing their coordinates “to ensure their protection,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The attacks “reveal fundamental flaws with the so-called deconfliction system, meant to protect aid workers,” according to the report. CNN previously asked the Israeli military for a response to the HRW report.

“It’s really unsafe for us humanitarians, there are no safe corridors, no movement coordinations,” said Shalabi.

Shalabi says he, his wife and children have been forced to flee at least three times since October.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen next,” he added. “I hope I will be able to return to my home and resume whatever life I had before I was displaced.”


Related Articles

Back to top button