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Without enough aid reaching Gaza, a young Palestinian baby dies of hunger

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, the Gaza Strip has been under Israeli siege. U.N. aid agencies say not enough aid is getting in, and people are now starving. NPR correspondent Aya Batrawy reports on hunger in Gaza City.

AYA BATRAWY, BYLINE: Tasneem Ahel is a young woman in Gaza City. Her father got food from an aid truck last week, before the World Food Program suspended deliveries to northern Gaza after its trucks were mobbed by crowds so hungry, they were eating the food as it fell off. Israeli tanks have also fired onto crowds of people waiting for aid in Gaza City, like the one Ahel's father stood in last week. He survived and secured a prized sack of flour. She was so excited. She sent me this voice note.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TASNEEM AHEL: We are happy just to have the flour and to have pizza. I will send you the photos just to know how awful - how we struggle just to have a normal food.

BATRAWY: Cheese and tomato sauce are expensive and hard to find in Gaza City, but her family managed to scrounge together the ingredients for the flour he got.

AHEL: We eat one meal in the day. And if there's food, you can eat one meal and a snack.

BATRAWY: The U.N. says Gaza is at risk of famine, and people are already dying. NPR obtained a video from a civil defense team in northern Gaza that shows an emaciated baby - pale-skinned, his mouth gaping open. He was rushed to Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, which is hardly functioning after it was raided by Israeli forces.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Non-English language spoken).

BATRAWY: A member of the rescue team says the baby died over the weekend of acute malnourishment. He'd gone days without milk.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

BATRAWY: The boy's father cries over his son's tiny body.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Shouting in non-English language).

BATRAWY: He says, "it's a sin what's happening to children - a sin." Ahel says her family and younger siblings survive off whatever they can find, including...

(SOUNDBITE OF BANGING)

BATRAWY: ...Flour so old it's turned to pebbles. She sent me video of her family pounding it down. She says her family found the flour in a relative's bombed-out home in Gaza City, mixed with debris and dirt. Human Rights Watch says Israeli authorities are using starvation as a weapon of war. Israel says aid agencies and Hamas are to blame for the problem. Ahel says she feels trapped.

AHEL: You feel like you are in a prison - in a big prison. And also, prisons - you have rights.

BATRAWY: Rights, she says, to be healthy and to be fed - rights people in northern Gaza say they don't have. Aya Batrawy, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Aya Batrawy
Aya Batraway is an NPR International Correspondent based in Dubai. She joined in 2022 from the Associated Press, where she was an editor and reporter for over 11 years.
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