Humanitarian Access Snapshot - North of Wadi Gaza | Mid-January 2024
The movement of humanitarian missions into areas where Israeli forces operate in Gaza is transparently coordinated with parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage. The first two weeks of January have witnessed a dramatic increase in the rate of denials by the Israeli military of access to areas to the north of Wadi Gaza. This has prevented the scale-up of humanitarian operations.
In the first two weeks of January, humanitarian agencies planned 29 missions to deliver life-saving supplies to the north; more than 1.5 times the total number planned in December (18).
However, due to access denials by the Israeli military, only 7 of the 29 missions (24%) were carried out, either fully or partially. An additional two missions (7%) were coordinated by the Israeli military, but could not be carried out due to infeasible access through Israeli-allocated routes or excessive delays at checkpoints infringing on safe operating windows.
The 69% rate of denials over the first half of January denotes a stark deterioration from the previous months (October-December); when the access of only 14% (6 out of 43) of missions planned to the north was denied; with 86% (37) facilitated. The denials prevent scale-up and have a paralyzing opportunity cost to the overall response.
The Israeli military denied 95% (18 of 19) of missions involving the allocation of fuel and medicines to water reservoirs, water wells and health facilities in the north in the first two weeks of January. This increased health and environmental hazards while debilitating the functionality of the six partially functioning hospitals (the remaining 18 hospitals are not functioning).
Since 7 October 2023, humanitarian missions have reported at least two incidents involving escalation of force and two detainments of convoy members. Reluctance by Israeli forces to open both main supply routes simultaneously and/or facilitate early access through the checkpoint that they control has resulted in persistent security and protection issues for civilians, including the humanitarian responders.
Beyond access to the north, the capacity of humanitarian agencies to operate safely and effectively anywhere in Gaza remains heavily compromised by Israeli restrictions on the import of critical equipment, including sufficient numbers of armored vehicles (AVs) and appropriate communication devices. As of 17 January, the UN was able to secure the entry of four AVs into Gaza, while many more are required and maintenance for the existing fleet is essential.