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The Long, Slow Violence Of Starvation In Gaza

13.02.2024 14:27

Gazans now make up 80% of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide All children under five – 335,000 kids – are at high risk of severe malnutrition as the risk of famine conditions continues to increase Because of the blockade, even before this war, half of Gazans were...

A quarter of the population is starving in Gaza. Famine is imminent. I, amongst other independent human rights experts in the UN system, quickly saw how Israel was committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Recently, the International Court of Justice found that it was plausible that Israel's acts could amount to genocide. Since then, Israel and its allies' violence against the Palestinian people has amplified increasing civilian harm and suffering. On the day of the International Court of Justice's ruling, Israel made unsubstantiated allegations that 12 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) employees colluded with Hamas (it now claims it was 9 employees). Immediately, 18 major donors to UNRWA suspended their funding, including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan. UNRWA is therefore likely to end its operations by the end of the month and Gazans will lose their principal lifeline, making the donor countries complicit in starvation. This is also collective punishment against the Palestinian people since 30,000 UNRWA employees operate in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan serving approximately 3 million Palestinian refugees.

Starvation as a weapon

To put things into a global perspective, Gazans now make up %80 of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide. Since the Second World War, we have never seen an entire civilian population made to go hungry this completely and quickly. How did this happen? Israel is not only bombing homes and civilian infrastructure, making the territory uninhabitable, leaving nowhere safe in Gaza. Israel is also using hunger as a weapon to harm and kill civilians in Gaza. On October 9, two days after Hamas's attack, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered Israeli Defense Forces to impose a "total siege" blocking any food, water, fuel, and medicine from entering anywhere in Gaza. Even now, humanitarian aid is only trickling into Gaza. Israel is hindering the delivery of aid by the UN or any relief organization. All children under five -- 335,000 kids -- are at high risk of severe malnutrition as the risk of famine conditions continues to increase. Because of the lack of nutrition, a whole generation is now in danger of suffering from permanent physical and cognitive impairment, what doctors call stunting. Even with little humanitarian aid that has been allowed to enter, people still lack food and fuel to cook. Most bakeries do not have enough fuel or flour to make bread for the people. Parents are resorting to feeding their children what little animal feed is available, if they can feed them at all. Livestock are starving and unable to provide food or be a source of food. Meanwhile, access to safe water continues to diminish. Along with the blocking of humanitarian aid Israel is also destroying Gaza's food system. Since the Israeli military's ground offensive started on October 27, over %22 of agricultural land, including orchards, greenhouses, and farmland in northern Gaza, has been razed by Israeli forces. Israel has also destroyed approximately %70 of Gaza's fishing fleet and continues to target fishers.

The only way: Cease-fire

Israel has been strangling Gaza for decades before this. Since 1948, Palestinians have had to be steadfast against the slow suffering and death caused by Israel's mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinian people from their homes and villages. Since 1967, Palestinians have had to be steadfast against the occupation of Palestinian territory in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the furthering of an apartheid regime. Since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade against Gaza, severely limiting the flow of goods and blocking fishers access to the sea. Because of the blockade, even before this war, half of Gazans were food insecure and 80% relied on humanitarian aid. The only way to end this horror is through an immediate cease-fire and unhindered humanitarian relief. The only way to achieve long-lasting peace is to fulfill the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. People are bearing witness and speaking out against the horrors of Gaza. People are politically organizing, pressuring their governments, demanding a cease-fire and unhindered humanitarian relief. Governments need to now listen, heed the calls, and impose real political and economic pressure against Israel and its allies to end the starvation and genocide in Gaza.*Opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu. -

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