A Palestinian man with bags of fresh bread near a queue of people waiting to collect limited food supplies at a store in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 16, 2023. Image Credit: Bloomberg

GENEVA: The UN’s World Food Programme said the food situation in the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip was worsening, with only four or five days of stocks left in the shops.

WFP said stocks were getting low in warehouses inside the Palestinian enclave, but at the shop level, the situation was even more acute.

“The situation in Gaza is getting worse by the minute: the humanitarian situation but also of course the food security situation,” WFP’s Middle East spokeswoman Abeer Etefa, told reporters at the UN in Geneva via video-link from Cairo.

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“The current stocks of essential food commodities are sufficient for only two weeks - and that’s at the wholesalers’ level,” she said, with the warehouses located in Gaza City in the north of the territory and shops having difficulties replenishing supplies.

“Inside the shops, the stocks are getting close to less than a few days, maybe four or five days of food stocks left.”

Gaza-based Hamas fighters broke through Israel’s heavily fortified border on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Israel has responded with withering air strikes on Hamas-controlled Gaza and by deploying tens of thousands of troops to the border in preparation for a full-scale ground offensive.

Israel has demanded that residents of north Gaza leave for the south, hoping to clear the area of civilians in preparation for a perilous urban ground assault.

Etefa said that out of five flour mills in the Gaza Strip, only one was operating due to security concerns and the unavailability of fuel.

“So the bread supply is running low and people are lining up for hours to get bread,” she said.

Only five bakeries out of 23 in Gaza contracted by WFP were still in operation, she added.

“Our food supplies within Gaza are running really short,” said Etefa.

The spokeswoman said there has been no looting of WFP warehouses, and “anyway, whatever we have left in the warehouses is so little”.

Israel says at least 199 hostages were taken by Hamas or other groups during the October 7 raid.

Hamas’s military wing has said the group was holding 200 people, with about 50 more held by other “resistance factions and in other places”.