A famine in Gaza will be impossible to avoid if current restrictions on aid remain in place, MPs have warned.

The Commons International Development Committee published an urgent report on Friday warning of an ongoing humanitarian “catastrophe” that would only escalate without a lasting ceasefire.

Based on evidence from experts and a visit to the region, the MPs said it was “unnecessarily difficult” to get aid into Gaza, with NGOs complaining of an “almost malicious bureaucracy” that saw lorries of aid turned back for carrying even one item deemed to be of dual use.

Israel-Hamas conflict
The UK has arranged for aid to be airdropped into Gaza, but MPs have warned not enough is getting through (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office/PA)

The MPs said: “Current border restrictions will make it impossible to avert a famine.

“The state of desperation in Gaza has been emphasised to this Committee.

“Food is not getting through in anything close to the amounts needed.

“Lack of certainty of supply is driving desperate behaviour in the population and gives opportunity for organised crime to step in.”

The committee urged the Government to put pressure on Israel to open more crossings into Gaza, provide more streamlined access for aid and allow commercial goods into the region to supplement aid.

They also found that any ceasefire of less than 30 days would not be enough to get sufficient aid into the country to “mitigate some of the worst horrors of the situation”.

MPs also stated they had heard “compelling evidence” that both sides of the conflict had breached international law, adding: “Even if there are not clear breaches of international law, Israel has at times been operating against the spirit of humanitarian law, as aid continues to trickle into Gaza at a speed that does not satisfy the requirements for basic human needs.”

They called on the Government to insist that Israel complies with its obligations under humanitarian law and press for evidence of to be gathered to allow investigation of potential breaches by both sides of the conflict.

Committee chairwoman and Labour MP Sarah Champion said: “In war we expect the deaths to be men of fighting age.

“In Gaza they are overwhelmingly women and children, this raises questions and serious concerns.

“The Committee heard compelling evidence that breaches of international law are taking place, on both sides.

“We received no reassurance that healthcare workers, medics or facilities are being proactively protected.

“Not even a fraction of the needed aid is entering Gaza to prevent famine, and there is no way that can even begin to happen in the current conditions.

“Meeting people fleeing Gaza and those who have been working there, the true horror of what is happening is hard to hear.

“We know maybe 10% of the story, but let me be clear, there are two million stories of suffering and the UK Government must do all within its power to hold those responsible to account and stop the violence on both sides now.”

The committee’s report comes the day after the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said the Palestinian death toll had passed 30,000 people.

The Government has previously called for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to enter the country, while both Labour and the SNP have issued calls for a ceasefire.

On Tuesday, Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said a pause that could pave the way for a sustained ceasefire was “in reach right now” following US president Joe Biden’s comment that a ceasefire could be achieved by next week.