The Guardian • Issue #2094

Criminal Israel – Genocide by famine

Palestine rally condemning Israeli's genocide.

Photo: Anna Pha

The situation in Gaza is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe with the appalling suffering and loss of life and the urgent and deteriorating humanitarian circumstances. Israel’s enforced starvation, depriving Palestinians of medical provisions, and now famine – all used as weapons of war, all crimes against humanity.

At the time of writing, Nicaragua has accused Germany of breaching the UN genocide convention at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based on Germany sending military hardware to Israel and ceasing funding of the UN’s aid agency. Nicaragua joins South Africa which has brought genocide charges against Israel.

After six months of constant bombardment the death toll stands at around 40,000 murdered by Israel, including thousands under rubble. Over 75,000 people have been injured. Israel has intensified its assault on the people of Gaza.

1.9 million people more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population, have been internally displaced, with more than one million in Rafah facing imminent attack from Israel.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) says more than 350 Israeli military attacks have targeted its buildings, with 161 installations damaged. The highest number of UN staff in history – 179 – have been killed in Gaza since 7 October.

The Government Media Office in Gaza reports that 140 journalists have been killed.

The Israeli army has focused its attacks on hospitals across Gaza despite their protection under international law, claiming Hamas is operating within and underneath them. All hospitals have suffered critical damage, with only 10 out of 36 able to partially function. They are increasingly overburdened.

Israel continues to treat the International Court of Justice with contempt and impunity, ignoring the ICJ’s interim finding of plausible genocide and its call to allow unimpeded access of food aid into Gaza. The ICJ also ordered Israel to immediately ensure “that its military does not commit acts which constitute a violation of any of the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza as a protected group under the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, including by preventing, through any action, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.”

“The court observes that Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine … but that famine is setting in,” the judges said in a unanimous decision.

HORRIFIC

Aid entering Gaza has fallen to 112 daily truckloads, down from a pre-conflict average of 500-600. One aid truck was turned back “because it had scissors used in children’s medical kits.”

Israeli forces have also attacked aid convoys and bombed warehouses inside Gaza. Starvation and dehydration have become weapons of war, taking the lives of an increasing number of babies, children and the elderly.

1.1 MILLION FACE FAMINE

“The stark absence of humanitarian space and lack of supplies we’re witnessing in Gaza is truly horrific,” says Lisa Macheiner, Médecins Sans Frontières project coordinator in Gaza.

“If people are not killed by bombs, they are suffering from food and water deprivation and dying from lack of medical care.”

Even getting basics into Gaza is a nightmare. MSF said it had “consistently been denied the import of power generators, water purifiers, solar panels and other medical equipment,” Macheiner said.

In North Gaza people are surviving on 245 calories a day – 12 per cent of their daily calorific needs.

Babies and young children are dying from dehydration and malnutrition in northern Gaza, but Israel is still blocking humanitarian missions.

“People in Gaza cannot endure any more suffering,” continues Macheiner. “They have lost all sense of safety, whether from the constant threat of being killed by bombs at night or the uncertainty of finding their next meal or drink of water.”

Aid drops from the air by US and other countries are a drop in the ocean, an expensive and futile means of supplying aid.

CHILDREN

UNICEF, the UN fund for children, estimates that at least 17,000 Palestinian children are currently unaccompanied or separated from their parents in Gaza.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that some 1,000 children in Gaza have lost one or both of their legs in Israel’s bombing.

Eight of every 10 schools in Gaza are damaged or destroyed, according to UNICEF. As many as 625,000 students have no access to education.

For every child at risk of death from an air strike, starvation, or lack of medical assistance, countless more will bear long-lasting psychological scars as a result of witnessing family or friends dying, life-changing injuries, and being deprived of the basics of childhood, the NGO Plan International (PI) says.

“Right now, Gaza is known as the most intricate humanitarian response context in the world. It is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child and an aid worker. We know from experience that the catastrophic psychological impact of war will continue to haunt children and their caregivers long after fighting stops. An 18-year-old living in Gaza today will have lived through conflict in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021 and now since October 2023, witnessing things no child ever should. This has a profound impact on a young mind,” PI said.

The Communist Party of Australia is calling on the Australian government to:

  • Increase funding to UNRWA
  • Cease military and other support for Israel
  • Impose economic sanctions on Israel
  • Support South Africa’s genocide case at the ICJ
  • Recognise an independent Palestinian state.
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