Anera is Pausing Gaza Operations Amid Rising Threats and Attack on WCK

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Following the targeted Israeli attack on a humanitarian aid convoy yesterday, resulting in the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers, Anera is taking the unprecedented step of pausing its humanitarian operations in Gaza.

The killing of WCK humanitarians, occurring less than a month after the still-unexplained killing of Anera staff member Mousa Shawwa, alongside the loss of numerous other aid workers and their families, has led our team to conclude that delivering aid safely is no longer feasible. For the safety of our staff and their families, we are suspending Anera’s work in Gaza.

Since the onset of the war on October 7, Anera’s Gaza team has provided an average of 150,000 meals daily (in collaboration with WCK), millions of medical treatments, and thousands of other critical emergency aid items. While we understand the severe consequences this suspension will have on the Palestinian population, the escalating risks associated with aid delivery leave us with no choice but to halt operations until our staff regain confidence that they can do their work without undue risk.

In nearly six months of conflict, this marks the first instance where our Palestinian staff in Gaza, enduring continuously hazardous conditions, have deemed the risk to their safety, and that of their families, intolerable. Anera’s longstanding presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, spanning over 55 years and enduring through multiple conflicts, underscores the gravity of this decision. The unprecedented scale of the current conflict and the disregard for international law necessitate this historic pause in our operations.

The attack on the seven WCK aid workers constitutes a clear violation of the International Court of Justice’s provisions, emphasizing that humanitarian workers and civilians must never be targeted. The ongoing targeting of humanitarian workers and the lack of adequate safety measures demand thorough investigation and immediate action. Israel bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the unhindered delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance and basic services to those in need.

In accordance with international law and principles of humanity, parties with effective control over a population are obligated to provide protection, ensuring the provision of essential supplies for civilian survival. Even if specific obligations under occupation laws do not apply, all parties must uphold the minimum duties outlined in international humanitarian law. Israel, as the occupying authority in Gaza, holds ultimate responsibility for obstructing the delivery of essential supplies and failing to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.

We reiterate our demand for adequate security for humanitarian and health workers, journalists, and all civilians, and call for an immediate and enduring ceasefire.


FAQs About Anera’s Humanitarian Pause in Gaza

Why is Anera pausing now?

For the first time, our colleagues in Gaza have expressed that they can not continue to work under the unprecedented conditions they’re facing, with more than 200 aid workers killed as they delivered humanitarian relief. After six months of constant bombing and flagrant violations of international law, and with consultation from our Gaza team, Anera has concluded it is best to pause our operations.

This latest attack which killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers is a part of the same pattern of targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers that claimed the life of Anera’s staff member Mousa Shawwa last month. Like Anera, WCK has taken all required precautions international aid organizations have been told would ensure the safety of their staff, including sharing the coordinates of their workers, having clearly marked trucks, and working in deconflicted zones. However, even with meeting these conditions the attack on WCK has proven that humanitarian aid workers are not safe.

As it stands, currently delivering aid puts not just humanitarian workers at risk but also those who are receiving the aid. Our team in Gaza has determined that at this point the risk of actively delivering aid is far too great.

What does this mean for the people who rely on our work?

This decision was not made lightly. We understand that the pause of Anera’s and other organizations’ programs on the ground will create gaps in desperately needed relief. However, the decision to pause aid was informed directly by our staff in Gaza. Anera’s staff are all from the communities they serve, meaning our team in Gaza understands more than anyone the implications of a pause in aid as they themselves are members of the beneficiary community. Their ability to work is contingent on the ability of Israeli authorities to guarantee that they will not be targeted for distributing humanitarian relief along with the beneficiaries that they serve.

What does this mean for Anera’s work in Gaza?

We will continue with our logistics work inside and outside Gaza, which includes bringing in trucks, procuring items, doing inventories, and preparing aid for distribution. However, our direct operational work in Gaza, which includes food and non-food distributions, free healthcare days and psychosocial activities, will be paused until further notice.

While the decision to temporarily halt the daily delivery to our community kitchens and other activities is an extremely difficult decision, it is necessary to safeguard our staff and the vulnerable beneficiaries we serve. Furthermore, since Anera coordinates with World Central Kitchen for a significant portion of our supplies, the suspension of their operations has further necessitated this pause.

What do we do with the aid already at our distribution center?

We hope and plan to resume aid distribution soon. Our distribution center will continue to accommodate incoming and received shipments that need inventorying and preparation for distribution. When the pause ends, our team will immediately deliver the items we have procured to the community.

How long will the pause in Gaza be in force?

The pause in our distribution of aid will hold as long as our staff in Gaza feel unsafe doing their work. We will continue to monitor the situation and the sentiments of our staff in Gaza and will resume when we have the proper assurances that they can complete their work without fear of death.

It is the responsibility of Israel to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers so that relief efforts can resume as soon as possible.

What will it take for us to resume our work?

The blatant nature of the attack on WCK’s convoy has proven that aid workers are currently under attack. The pattern of killing aid workers along with withholding of humanitarian aid and denial of entry of critically needed supplies is unacceptable. We will know more as the situation unfolds; however, our decision to resume aid relies on the safety of our staff. Once our staff in Gaza determine they are able to deliver aid without fear of being killed, Anera will resume its ground operations.

Is Anera still fundraising? Can I still give?

Yes, you can still give and we encourage you to do so. This is a temporary pause, not a permanent cessation of our work. Your support will allow us to continue shipping trucks into Gaza in preparation for a resumption of our work.

We also continue our operations and critical work throughout Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank where we serve Palestinian refugees and neglected communities.

What are we doing with the funds that are coming in?

We expect to keep working to serve vulnerable populations, and we need the support of our community to do so. This is a temporary pause. We are not stopping our work. Donations made during this time will help us continue to deliver trucks into Gaza, with the help of our teams in the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt.

We will continue receiving and coordinating medical offers to preposition in Jordan to have ready to go in. This is something we were considering before the suspension as JHCO has limited space to store our items in Jordan pending delivery to Gaza. We will look into quick solutions in Jordan to store shipments in the pipeline.

The situation has always been high-risk for humanitarian aid workers. What is different about this situation that prompted Anera to pause operations?

Anera’s team in Gaza has had to respond in ever-changing conditions and take daily risks from the start to do their work. Up until the killing of Anera staff member Mousa Shawwa and this targeted attack on WCK workers, Anera’s staff in Gaza were willing to take on the additional risks to deliver aid. Humanitarian procedures that coordinate between all relevant officials were meant to provide them with assurance of their safety. The targeted nature of this attack on three WCK trucks removes any possible doubt of the intentions behind it and asserts the additional danger our staff face to deliver aid.

Every day our staff in Gaza are going to reevaluate the situation.

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