Gaza aid timeline: How the hunger crisis unfolded amid the Israel-Hamas war

A top U.S. official said last week famine may be occurring in parts of Gaza.

Gaza aid timeline: How the hunger crisis unfolded amid the Israel-Hamas war
Fatima Shbair/AP
April 19, 2024, 6:07 AM

As the Israel-Hamas war continues, experts and aid organizations have said a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Gaza following Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023 and Israel's military response.

At the beginning of the war, Israel implemented a blockade, severely limiting the amount of food and other supplies into Gaza, resulting in extreme shortages, according to aid officials. Between depleted natural resources, the struggle to import food and an inadequate water supply, international organizations have warned the strip is experiencing "catastrophic" levels of hunger.

A top U.S. humanitarian official, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power, testified before Congress last week that it was "credible" to assess parts of Gaza are experiencing a famine.

Some aid organizations have accused Israel of not providing enough authorization to deliver sufficient aid and, even when it does give authorization, heavy fighting makes it difficult to deliver that aid. Israel denies the accusations and said the U.N., its partners and other aid agencies have created logistical challenges, resulting in a bottleneck. Additionally, the Israeli government said Hamas often steals aid meant for civilians. The U.N. and Hamas dispute the respective claims.

Since Oct. 7, more than 33,800 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 76,500 have been wounded, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

ABC News takes a look at key dates and developments in the aid and hunger crisis.

PHOTO: Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 21, 2023.
Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 21, 2023.
Fatima Shbair/AP

Oct. 7, 2023

Around 6:30 a.m. local time, air raid sirens sound in Jerusalem, warning citizens of an attack and to take cover. About 3,000 rockets are fired towards southern and central Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Meanwhile, armed Hamas terrorists launch a surprise attack in southern Israel kibbutzes, killing 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals, including about 800 civilians and more than 300 security personnel. More than 240 hostages are kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Deif, commander in chief of Hamas' military arm, Al Qassam Brigades, releases a video statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

PHOTO: Surveillance video taken at the Bar Be'eri Kibbuz on Oct. 7, 2023, captured Hamas terrorists taking over the guard house.
Surveillance video taken at the Bar Be'eri Kibbuz on Oct. 7, 2023, captured Hamas terrorists taking over the guard house.
Israel Defense Forces

Oct. 8, 2023

The day after the surprise terrorist attack, Israel's Security Cabinet formally votes to confirm a state of war effective 6:00 a.m. local time on Oct. 7.

"[T]he war that was forced on the State of Israel in a murderous terrorist assault from the Gaza Strip," according to the Israeli government's statement.

The declaration follows comments made the previous day by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which he vowed "mighty vengeance" and said the country was preparing for "a long and difficult war."

Oct. 9, 2023

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant orders a "complete siege" of Gaza, cutting electricity to the region and blocking fuel and food from entering the territory from Israel.

Meanwhile, the IDF announces it has mobilized 300,000 reserves, which it says is the largest and quickest call-up in Israel's history.

Oct. 21, 2023

After nearly two weeks of not letting any supplies enter Gaza, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip briefly opens, allowing the first trucks of humanitarian aid to enter.

The border quickly closes again after 20 trucks carrying supplies, including food, medicine and water, cross into Gaza from the Egyptian side, according to an aid worker on site and Egyptian state media.

PHOTO: The entry of humanitarian aid arrives through the Rafah land crossing into the Gaza Strip, Oct. 21, 2023, in Rafah, Gaza.
The entry of humanitarian aid arrives through the Rafah land crossing into the Gaza Strip, Oct. 21, 2023, in Rafah, Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Oct. 26, 2023

White House national security spokesman John Kirby says 74 trucks of aid have entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing since Oct. 21 but that it's "not enough."

He adds the U.S. wants "localized, temporary, specific pauses on the battlefield so that humanitarian assistance can get in to people that need it or the people can get out of that area in relative safety."

Oct. 31, 2023

A total of 66 aid trucks carrying food, medicine and water cross into Gaza, which is the "highest single-day delivery" at this point in the war, according to Kirby.

Previously, about 10 to 20 trucks were crossing into Gaza per day.

However, Kirby says the arriving aid is "a trickle compared to what needs to get in and we're gonna keep working that, very, very hard."

Nov. 14, 2023

A fuel shortage stalls aid deliveries from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, a Rafah border crossing official tells ABC News.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which at this point is responsible for receiving and distributing humanitarian aid coming from Egypt, says its trucks ran out of fuel, making it unable to receive aid coming through Rafah.

It marks the first day since Oct. 21 that no aid trucks have crossed into Gaza through Egypt.

Nov. 16, 2023

In southern Gaza, where most of the population has fled to, 70% of people have no access to clean water, Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of UNRWA, tells Al Jazeera.

Lazzarini says raw sewage is "starting to flow in the streets" and warns that if fuel isn't brought into Gaza soon, "We run the risk to have to suspend the entire humanitarian operation."

"No one should have to live in this type of situation. It's just evil."
"No one should have to live in this type of situation. It's just evil."

Nov. 24, 2023

Israel and Hamas agree to a temporary four-day truce that begins at 7:00 a.m. local time. It is extended twice before ending on Dec. 1.

On the first day of the pause, the U.N. says it dispatched 200 trucks from Nitzana, in Israel, to the Rafah crossing. Additionally, 137 trucks of goods are offloaded by the UNRWA reception point in Gaza, making it the biggest humanitarian convoy received since Oct. 7. Hundreds of aid trucks will enter Gaza during the ceasefire.

Over the course of the week, 105 hostages are released by Hamas and 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees are released by Israel.

Dec. 12, 2023

Israel opens a second border crossing at Kerem Shalom in southern Gaza to allow more aid to enter the strip.

The crossing facilities will be used to screen convoys in parallel to the screening at Rafah to hopefully double the amount of aid that enters Gaza, officials say.

PHOTO: Map of Gaza and Israel
Map of Gaza and Israel
ABC News

For the past few years, the crossing had been a "commercial" crossing. It was used to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, before it was put under blockade in 2007.

Dec. 21, 2023

The Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC) initiative releases a report saying 100% of the population in Gaza is experiencing a hunger crisis and that "virtually all households are skipping meals every day."

Jan. 23, 2024

UNRWA says 570,000 Gazans are classified as having food insecurity equivalent to famine levels of starvation, as defined by the IPC.

"Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions [plus] communications blackouts are hampering @UNRWA's ability to safely & effectively deliver aid," the organization writes on the social platform X. "As risk of famine grows, @UN calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access."

"I’m trying to find something for my kids to eat. The situation is below zero," Maryam Al-Dahdouh, a mother in southern Gaza, says a few days earlier.

The UN estimates there are now 1.9 million people displaced across the Gaza Strip.
The UN estimates there are now 1.9 million people displaced across the Gaza Strip.

Feb. 20, 2024

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The World Food Programme (WFP), a U.N. food agency, announces it is temporarily suspending food deliveries to northern Gaza until conditions improve for safer distribution.

The WFP says its aid convoys experienced "complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order," including hungry people trying to climb aboard the trucks, gunfire and violent looting.

I’m trying to find something for my kids to eat. The situation is below zero
Maryam Al-Dahdouh, a mother in southern Gaza

Feb. 27, 2024

Ramesh Rajasingham, director of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, says during a briefing that more than 570,000 people are "one step away from famine" and that one in six children under age 2 in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition.

He says that amid the war, Gaza's agricultural production and fishing industry have collapsed, and livestock have been depleted, leaving the entire population to depend on "woefully inadequate humanitarian food assistance to survive."

A senior U.N. aid official told the Security Council on Tuesday that widespread famine in Gaza could be "almost inevitable" without action.
A senior U.N. aid official told the Security Council on Tuesday that widespread famine in Gaza could be "almost inevitable" without action.

At the same briefing, officials from the WFP say there are security risks for humanitarian workers, including shelling and "incidents involving desperate civilians, protests and a breakdown in law and order."

Feb. 29, 2024

More than 100 people in northern Gaza are killed and more than 700 are injured by Israeli troops while waiting for food, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

However, Israeli officials contend residents surrounded the food trucks and many were trampled during the stampede.

Additionally, the IDF claims self-defense, saying it was there to support the convoy and when people got too close to the tanks securing the route, troops opened fire.

March 2, 2024

The U.S. conducts its own delivery of aid to Gaza, airdropping pallets with more than 38,000 ready-to-eat meals.

As airdrops continue, reports will later emerge that some Gazans drown while trying to obtain airdropped packages that fall into the sea.

Meanwhile, Israel says it is working to increase the amount of aid into Gaza, warning that supplies must not end up in the hands of Hamas.

PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force loadmaster releases humanitarian aid pallets of food over Gaza, Mar. 2, 2024.
A U.S. Air Force loadmaster releases humanitarian aid pallets of food over Gaza, Mar. 2, 2024.
Staff Sgt. Jasmonet Holmes/USAF

March 7, 2024

Enough food to feed "the entire population of Gaza" is waiting outside the Gaza Strip, according to Samer AbdelJaber, WFP director of emergency.

"We need land crossings, we need access to get it into Gaza, whether in the southern parts of Gaza or the northern part of Gaza, because the situation is catastrophic. So having access is really our number one priority," AbdelJaber says.

At this point, at least 20 people have died from malnutrition and dehydration amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

March 8, 2023

The European Union announces the launch of the Cyprus Maritime Corridor, a naval route facilitated by Europe's most southeastern island, Cyprus, to deliver aid to people in Gaza.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, says the corridor is a direct response to the dire conditions of civilians in Gaza, where several organizations declared a severe humanitarian emergency that is worsening daily.

March 15, 2023

In a since-deleted post on X, the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) claims an average of 126 trucks are entering Gaza daily compared to 70 that were entering daily before Oct. 7, 2023.

COGAT officials also claim there is no limit on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza.

PHOTO: Average Food Trucks Entering Gaza
Average Food Trucks Entering Gaza
COGAT

March 18, 2024

Famine is "imminent" in northern Gaza, as the entire population of the strip experiences high levels of food insecurity, according to an IPC report.

The report says famine in the north of the strip may occur between mid-March and the end of May unless an immediate cease-fire occurs so that essential food and supplies can be delivered consistently to Gazans.

March 24, 2024

Israel tells the U.N. it will no longer approve UNRWA food convoys into northern Gaza.

"By preventing UNRWA to fulfill its mandate in Gaza, the clock will tick faster towards famine & many more will die of hunger, dehydration + lack of shelter," Lazzarini writes in a post on X.

It comes amid disputed allegations that some UNRWA members participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel. UNRWA said it terminated the accused employees after the allegations were made public. An independent investigation by the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight is ongoing.

April 1, 2024

Seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen are killed during an IDF attack in Gaza, the organization says, adding that it plans to pause its operations in the region.

The next day, Israel's military chief Herzi Halevi says the airstrike was a "grave mistake" and occurred following a misidentification.

Following news of the WCK worker deaths, several charities announce they are pulling out of Gaza.

PHOTO: World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers killed in Gaza.
World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers killed in Gaza.
World Central Kitchen

April 5, 2024

Israel agrees to allow more aid into Gaza amid new pressure from the U.S.

President Joe Biden tells Netanyahu that Israel must take concrete steps to address the humanitarian suffering in Gaza or risk losing U.S. support.

PHOTO: Palestinians surround an aid convoy in Gaza.
Palestinians surround an aid convoy in Gaza.
Israel Defense Forces

April 9, 2024

A total of 468 humanitarian aid trucks enter Gaza, marking the highest number to enter Gaza in one day since the war began, according to COGAT.

This beats the record set one day earlier, when 419 trucks entered Gaza.

More than 1,200 aid trucks have entered Gaza over the last three days, according to the IDF and COGAT.

Additionally, it is learned that Biden's plan to build a humanitarian pier floating off the coast of Gaza to deliver aid is expected to cost at least $180 million and could top $200 million.

April 10, 2024

USAID Administrator Samantha Power testifies on Capitol Hill, saying it is "credible" to believe famine is currently underway in parts of Gaza based on the IPC initiative analysis.

ABC News' Ayat Al-Tawy, Camila Alcini, Tom Soufi Burridge, Ben Gittleson, Will Gretsky, Justin Ryan Gomez, Bill Hutchinson, Ellie Kaufman and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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