Gaza's 2.3m population are at risk of famine, a UN report says.

The entire 2.3 million population of Gaza is facing crisis levels of hunger and the risk of famine is increasing each day, a UN-backed body said in a report.

The proportion of households in Gaza affected by high levels of acute food insecurity is the largest ever recorded globally, according to a report published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) on Thursday.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated rapidly since Israel began a major military operation on October 7 in response to a deadly rampage into Israel by terrorist group Hamas. Israel's response has included heavy air strikes and a ground offensive that has laid waste to wide areas of the territory. 

Trucks bringing aid from Egypt have delivered some food, water and medicine, but the United Nations says the quantity of food is just 10 per cent of what is needed for the territory's inhabitants, most of whom have been displaced.

"There is a risk of famine and it is increasing each day that the current situation of intense hostilities and restricted humanitarian access persists or worsens," the IPC for Gaza said on Thursday.

Distribution of aid within Gaza has been hampered by military operations, inspections of aid demanded by Israel, communications blackouts and shortages of fuel.

Some desperate Gazans have jumped onto aid trucks to try to grab scarce supplies of food and other goods. There have been reports of residents eating donkey meat and emaciated patients seeking medical help.

The IPC warned that by 7 February about 50% of the population are forecast to be in the “emergency” phase – defined as very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality.

The IPC, produced by a partnership including UN agencies and NGOs, sets the global standard for determining the severity of a food crisis using a complex set of technical criteria. The IPC's most extreme warning is Phase 5, which has two levels, catastrophe and famine. It's report said that in Gaza “at least one in four households”, over half a million people, would be facing phase-five catastrophic conditions.

Famine has only been declared twice in the past 12 years, in parts of southern Somalia in 2011 and in parts of South Sudan in 2017. 

Feature image: Getty.