WFP urges restraint after Gaza warehouse destruction

In response to the weekend demolition of a WFP warehouse by the Israeli Defence Forces, WFP is urging the Israeli government to observe humanitarian principles and compensate the agency for its losses.

Demolished warehouse (Photo: WFP, 2002)

Some 537 metric tons of food aid was being stored in a warehouse in the town of Jaballia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip which was targeted in a military incursion the night of November 30.

“The fact that WFP was not permitted to remove the food is worrisome,” said Jean-Luc Siblot, WFP country director.

“The food, which was housed on the ground floor of a three-storey building and clearly marked as WFP property, mainly comprised donations from the European Commission and Sweden and was to be distributed by the Ministry of Social Affairs to some 41,300 destitute people affected by the ongoing humanitarian crises in the Gaza Strip.”

The total value of the loss is estimated at US$271,000.


At approximately 22:50, the Israeli Defense Force surrounded the area and six tanks were parked in front of the building.

After requesting residents to evacuate their homes, IDF soldiers entered the building and conducted a search of the premises with dogs.

Despite the fact that the storage area was well marked as a WFP warehouse, with a large WFP flag and three WFP stickers on the doors, the soldiers proceeded to destroy the doors of the warehouse using tanks.

The owner of the building witnessed dynamite sticks being placed in various parts of the building and at approximately midnight, several blasts were heard, followed by a large explosion from a projectile dropped from a helicopter.

The building collapsed and everything left in it, including 413 tonnes of wheat flour, 107 tonnes of rice and 17 tonnes of vegetable oil, was destroyed.

WFP should have been permitted to remove the food. This act has been carried out against basic humanitarian principles,” Siblot said.

WFP is asking the Government of Israel to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take full responsibility for the losses incurred by the agency.”

Geography of Hunger on the West Bank/Gaza Strip

Hebron (457,781 inhabitants)

  • Since late 2000, about 50,000 daily wage labourers have lost their jobs
  • About 100,000 people need food aid

    Bethlehem (153,954 inhabitants)

  • Since late 2000, about 47,000 people have lost their jobs. Wages diminished by about 50 percent
  • About 30 percent of the families have reportedly sold some property to get cash for basic necessities
  • About 30,000 people are in need of food aid

    Jerusalem (367,000 inhabitants)

  • About 50,000 people lost their jobs
  • 7,000 people need emergency food assistance

    Ramallah (243,432 inhabitants)

  • About 19,400 people lost their jobs since late 2000
  • 30,000 people need food aid

    Nablus (331,688 inhabitants)

  • Wages of daily workers in Israel used to constitute a major source of income but since late 2000, about 13,000 people, including 8,000 who used to work inside Israel or settlements, lost jobs
  • 50,000 people need food aid

    Qalquilia (81,900 inhabitants)

  • Surrounded by Israel on three sides, local economy depends heavily on agriculture (esp. citrus exports) and wages of daily workers in Israel. Since late 2000, about 16,000 daily wage workers have lost their jobs inside Israel
  • 16,000 people need food assistance.

    Tulkaram (149,188 inhabitants)

  • Local economy depends mainly on agriculture and wages of daily workers in Israel. It is estimated that about 90 percent of the labourers that worked inside Israel have lost their jobs while 15,000 families dependent on agricultural exports have lost all or part of their income
  • About 24,000 need food assistance

    Salfit (54,600 inhabitants)

  • City’s economy dependent on jobs inside Israel and to a lesser extent agriculture. Many people are believed to have lost their jobs due to the closures
  • 11,000 in need of food aid

    Jenin (225,700 inhabitants)

  • Economy largely depends on commerce with and daily jobs in Israel (up to 70 percent). About 90 percent of the trade with Israel has been lost due to the closure while farming is now mainly a subsistence activity. About 20,000 who used to work inside Israel have lost jobs
  • Around 45,000 people are in need of food aid

    Jericho (37,066 inhabitants)

  • 7,000 people need food aid

    Gaza Strip (1,196,000 inhabitants)

  • About 68 percent of Palestinians who have fallen under the poverty line since late 2000 live here
  • Daily wages earned inside Israel used to form a major source of income but the complete closure of the Strip has deprived about 44,000 people of jobs
  • About 300,000 non-refugee Palestinians need of food aid