Of all the horrendous images which have come out of Gaza over the past six months, perhaps the most enduring will be that of a World Central Kitchen logo atop an aid truck with an almost perfect circle punctured through its middle - the mark of a missile.

While travelling to deliver food to the north of the strip, which stands on the brink of outright famine, a convoy of three WCK cars was fired on. Those who survived the first moved to a second car. It too was struck. As was the third.

All seven aid works - three of them British - were killed. The Israel Defence Forces called it "a mistake that followed a misidentification", World Central Kitchen called it "unforgivable".

Investigations and recriminations will rumble on, but it was a stark reminder of the dangers faced by aid agencies looking to deliver vital supplies in war-torn areas.

The Herald: People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has lost 176 staff in the six months since the war began. Most are native Gazans and were killed in their besieged homes, an estimated 8-10 were killed while on the job.

"Tragically, the WCK incident is basically more of the same," says UNRWA's Jonathan Fowler.

"That’s not in any way to diminish what happened, because we’re absolutely devastated like everyone else.

"Obviously it’s capturing more international attention because of the profile of the organisation and the profile of the people who were killed.

"In this very, very dark story if this tragic thing that happened to World Central Kitchen puts the spotlight on what it’s like to try and be an aid worker in Gaza that’s an important thing.

“It’s a call to action: enough is enough, this cannot continue.

The Herald: People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah

“Our premises have been hit, other aid organisations have been affected, it’s just part of this general breakdown of the safety and security of humanitarians.

“Of course, in the wider context, nowhere is safe in Gaza. We heard all this stuff about safe zones and evacuation zones right from the beginning of the war: ‘please evacuate to here… actually no that’s not safe either’.

“This illustrates that problem and also shows the immense danger humanitarians, whether they be from NGOs or our own organisation, put themselves in to try and deliver help in an absolutely catastrophic situation."

While bureaucracy isn't the first thing you think of when it comes to a warzone, there are protocols and paperwork to be followed for those delivering aid.

That involves speaking to both sides in a given conflict and trying to ensure it can be delivered safely.

Mr Fowler explains: "The route the World Central Kitchen people were on – and this was the case for one of our convoys that was hit – was deconflicted.

“So they’d been given permission to move in that space by the parties to the conflict, including the Israeli authorities.

“What that means is there’s an awareness of who these people are and where they’re going – we never move without those permissions and they (World Central Kitchen) don’t either.

“We’re not have-a-go-heroes diving in and putting our lives at risk, you have to make sure you can deliver to people in need.

"My previous posting was Ukraine and it was the same thing, this is what we do all the time as humanitarians.

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"You get different levels of dialogue and different progress of dialogue with parties to a conflict.

“A big question which was posed to us after the dam disaster in Ukraine last year was why we weren’t forging across into the Russian-occupied areas to deliver aid.

“Well, when we attempted to go we came under mortar fire and you’re not helping anybody by putting your life at risk, and if people gather somewhere to receive that aid from you then potentially they’re going to get killed too."

Sunday marks six months since October 7 when Hamas militia crossed the border into Israel and killed more than 1,000 people - mostly civilians - while taking around 250 hostage.

Israel has since claimed that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the attacks, though Sky News, Channel 4 News and the Financial Times have all stated that the intelligence dossier they have seen offers little or no evidence to support those claims.

UNRWA fired the accused employees and is carrying out an internal investigation, expected to be published at the end of the month.

The organisation has further accused Israel of coercing detainees into saying that it has links to Hamas under torture, including being beaten, stripped, robbed, blindfolded, sexually abused, and denied access to lawyers and doctors. The Israel Defence Forces called any allegation of sexual abuse "baseless" and said it would investigate any allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

The fallout has been that a number of countries withdrew their funding to the UN organisation. Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Japan, and Sweden have since reversed that decision in whole or in part but others have maintained theirs, including the US and UK.

The United States was UNRWA's largest donor, and its withheld funding represents 87% of the shortfall the organisation now faces.

The Herald: RAFAH, GAZA - JANUARY 30 : (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image depicts graphic content/death) The bodies of Palestinians killed during the war are buried in a mass grave on January 30, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza. The health ministry in Gaza said 80 bodies and 20 remains

Mr Fowler says: "We can maintain core operations until the end of May, what happens after that is a big question.

“We’ve got nine countries who have still suspended their funding to the agency, each time one comes back it’s better but it doesn’t mean it’s great.

"We’re urging all donors to come back but we are, of course, realistic about the fact there are different imperatives in different countries.”

UNRWA also operates in the occupied West Bank, and while Gaza has understandably been the focus of the world's attention the situation is difficult there too.

Mr Fowler says: "If you and I had been having this conversation in September last year Gaza would have been just a side mention. The war hadn’t started, obviously, but also because of the levels of anxiety and stress in the West Bank in terms of settler attacks, incursions by Israeli security forces and this kind of stuff.

“There was a record death toll, 500 people or something like that which doesn’t seem like a lot compared to Gaza now but the West Bank is an area which absolutely must not be forgotten.

"There are all these restricted roads and so on in the West Bank, but we in a UN vehicle can use them. I went to Nablus about two or three weeks ago, we got to a checkpoint which wasn’t even on our side of the road and we suddenly saw the soldier yelling and waving his hand – which was almost out of the line of sight of the driver.

“The guy had his gun cocked and basically told us to turn round and go away, even though this was an open road on which we had permission to drive.

“All we could do was file a protest, because you’re not going to argue at a checkpoint. Ever. We’re not stupid.

The Herald: The security checkpoint manded by Israeli soldiers dividing Jerusalem from Bethlehem in the West Bank. Photo Adam Davy, PA images.

"The other aspect of the West Bank is the ability of our staff to move around, the local staff. There are enormous movement restrictions.

“The drive from Ramallah to Bethlehem should probably take half an hour or something like that, but for our staff it can sometimes take four hours because roads are closed, they get stopped.

“There are reasons for this, but what you’re seeing is that it puts hurdles in the way of our work. It’s nothing like the Gaza strip, of course, but there’s always that element of risk.

“Then there’s another more bureaucratic thing which is our West Bank-based staff can’t come into the office in East Jerusalem, they’re not allowed in."

Unlike other aid organisations, UNRWA is primarily staffed by Palestinians meaning they are living through the conflict in a very real sense.

Mr Fowler says: "The daily toll of death and destruction tells you one thing – whole families wiped out, parts of families wiped out, the lingering trauma that will cause.

“The number of injured people, of course, which if you take dead and injured it’s more than 5% of the pre-war population.

“I invite everyone to frame that in terms of their own country or even their own town: 5% of the population.

“There’s the massive level of displacement, almost the entire population has had to flee their homes and they’re crammed into this Rafah area where the population has multiplied by about six and that is not sustainable.

“There’s the daily quest for food and water too, and of course our own staff are living through this.

“One of our staff is living in his car, other staff have said ‘yeah I’ve lost 10 of my relatives but this is what’s keeping me going, doing my job’.

“I think the psychological impacts when the war ends are going to be incredible. You’ve got 17,000 or more unaccompanied children, child amputees, adult amputees, the level of infrastructure destruction – 80% of medical facilities have been affected in some way.

“There was some talk that the World Central Kitchen thing might change the geopolitical dynamic with the international community but results on the ground are what matters.

“They made the decision – which I don’t question – that they had to cease operations because of what happened and that means that people who were getting fed by them aren’t being fed by them anymore which just adds more people to those in famine conditions.

"All these things make it incredibly apocalyptic and poses the question: what comes next?"