Crutches, chocolate croissants and more aid items for Gaza that Israel has rejected

Israel is under growing pressure to ramp up aid to Gaza, where its military operations and siege have brought mass displacement, hunger and disease. In recent days, Israeli authorities say, they have increased the number of food and aid trucks entering the enclave, after President Biden warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that U.S. support for Israel depends on the measures it takes to protect civilians and aid workers.

But in the six months since the start of the war, Israeli authorities have also denied or restricted access to a number of items, ranging from lifesaving medical supplies to toys to chocolate croissants.

“I think it’s unprecedented,” Shaina Low, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Palestinian territories, said of the Israeli restrictions. It’s just nothing that aid agencies have ever had to deal with.”

The blockages and delays, coupled with attacks on aid workers, are costing Palestinian lives, aid groups say - charges Israel denies.

Items rejected from entry into Gaza

The Washington Post reached 25 aid groups, U.N. agencies and donor countries about the kinds of aid they have tried to get into Gaza. Food, water and blankets do not require approvals, but agencies submit requests for items they think have a chance of getting rejected, such as communication equipment and sanitation or shelter items.

Pre-dispatch approvals and border inspections have been inconsistent, they said, with some items rejected in one instance but approved in others. In some cases, organizations were able to get rejections overturned upon appeal. Other requests have remained in limbo. COGAT, the Israeli military agency responsible for coordinating aid inside Gaza, did not respond to requests for comment.

Here is a list of items the United Nations and other aid agencies say Israeli authorities have blocked from entering Gaza at least once since Oct. 7:



animal feed

cardiac catheters

chemical water quality testing kits

chocolate croissants


field hospital boxes

flak jackets and helmets for aid workers

fittings for water pipeline repair

generators for hospitals

green tents and sleeping bags

maternity kits

medical thread in reproductive health kits

medical scissors in children’s aid kits

microbiological water-testing kits

mobile desalination units with solar system and generators

nail clippers in hygiene kits


obstetric clamps

oxygen concentrators

oxygen cylinders

power supply equipment

prefabricated shelters

satellite communication kits

scissors and scalpels in midwifery kits

sleeping bags with zippers


solar panels

solar-powered lamps and flashlights

solar-powered medical refrigerators

spare parts for pumps and generators

stone fruits

surgical tools for doctors

tap-stand kits for water distribution

tent poles

toys in wooden boxes

ultrasound equipment


water bladders


water filters and purification tablets

water pumps

wheelchairs, glucose measuring devices, syringes and other medical equipment on a truck rejected for a different item

X-ray machines

Limited scanning machines and operational hours at border inspection sites slow down the delivery of aid, according to Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.

If one item is rejected during an inspection, he added, the whole truck is sent back. Earlier this year, insulin pens for children were denied entry, McGoldrick said, after a mixed-cargo truck was rejected apparently because of solar panels.


“You’d think after five and a half months of a crisis of this kind, the systems in place would be a bit more predictable and settled. In fact, they are not. And that’s why we’re struggling,” McGoldrick said.

COGAT has in turn accused U.N. agencies for delays in aid delivery. Last month, responding to a video from U.N. Secretary General António Guterres showing miles of stalled trucks at the Rafah border crossing, COGAT said on social media that the United Nations “must scale up logistics and stop blaming Israel for its own failures.”

Overall, the agency says 22,105 trucks were allowed into Gaza between Oct. 7 and Wednesday, an average of about 118 trucks per day - about a fifth of the number that entered prewar. This week, COGAT said Israel was “surging” aid into Gaza, and that more than 1,200 aid trucks had entered Gaza in three days. Between mid-February and mid-March, COGAT says, 19 trucks of medical supplies entered the enclave.

‘Dual-use’ items

Israel has maintained a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007. This has included regulating the entry of “dual-use” items into Gaza, those that are predominantly civilian in nature but could also be used militarily, such as construction materials, communications equipment and chemicals. Israel argues these restrictions are necessary to choke off Hamas’s military apparatus.

Israel’s dual-use list, when it comes to Gaza, far exceeds the internationally recognized standard for such items, aid groups say. “It includes broad categories that contain potentially thousands of items, making it very difficult to know if any specific item is on the list or not,” said Miriam Marmur, public advocacy director of the Israeli human rights group Gisha. “This has impacted, for years, many, many aspects of everyday life on the Strip.”

Since Oct. 7, Israel has imposed a complete siege, and restrictions on the kind of items that can enter have greatly expanded beyond dual-use items, many say.

One U.S. official who visited the Rafah crossing point last month described meeting with aid workers who were deeply frustrated by the seeming arbitrariness of the rejected items. They included a pallet of chocolate croissants, which was apparently blocked because the Israelis deemed them luxury foods inappropriate for a war zone, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about their conversations during the visit.

The review process of goods for entry is “totally arbitrary,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who visited Rafah in January.

“When you’re turning back maternity kits and water purification tablets, that is a deliberate effort not to allow desperately needed goods into Gaza,” he said. “There’s no rational justification.”

Impact on humanitarian work

The difficulties of bringing aid into Gaza today are unprecedented, several aid workers said.

“The challenges with this, I’ve never seen in 15 years of doing this work,” said a humanitarian official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the work on the ground, adding that groups had begun to self-restrict. “They may not be pushing through everything they want because they know it takes up a huge amount of time for them and it’s not always going to win.”

Besides aid groups, donor countries including the United Kingdom and European Union nations have also shared their frustration.

A part of Belgium’s medical supply package was refused recently without reason, said Caroline Gennez, the country’s minister for development cooperation, adding that tons of food aid are often inadmissible because of frequent changes in rules for packaged foodstuff.

“Blocking humanitarian aid is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. Using starvation as a weapon is a war crime,” Gennez said. “This madness must end.”

These experiences and assertions have prompted a growing debate in Washington over whether the United States should suspend arms transfers to Israel, with aid groups and some Democrats calling on the Biden administration to reject Israeli claims that it is not violating international law over its restrictions on humanitarian aid and use of U.S.-supplied weapons.

“Given the current restrictions on the delivery of aid, there’s no plausible way that somebody could find that those assurances are credible and reliable,” Van Hollen said.

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Abigail Hauslohner and Beatriz Rios contributed to this report.