Starvation Haunts Gaza

With Gaza reduced to rubble, livelihoods have virtually evaporated in the besieged strip, and supplies from the outside are dwindling because of blockade by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). It’s a deliberate policy of starvation. Deliveries of food aid to the whole of Gaza are falling far short of what is needed, and the problem is worse in the north because the only crossings where Israel allows trucks to pass are in the south. Some aid trucks have been seized by desperate crowds before they reach. The sense of despair and helplessness seems to have gripped the entire Gaza population that is on the verge of mass hunger. As Gaza’s hunger crisis worsens, emaciated children are dying in hundreds. It’s a man-made famine.

Since October 7th IDF has restricted aid to Gaza to a trickle, with February seeing an average of only 96 trucks per day entering the enclave, a far cry from the 500-600 that used to enter daily. Israel has also made it harder for aid organisations to purchase items and attacked aid convoys, all of which has contributed to a reality in which 576,000 people–more than a quarter of Gaza’s population, are literally starving. This is not because of a lack of available food. The UN’s World Food Programme has said there is enough food waiting outside Gaza to feed “the entire population” but 2000 trucks are said to be sitting idle on the otherside of the Egypt-Gaza border, awaiting entry.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union Address on 7th March that the United States would establish a temporary, floating sea pier through which to deliver humanitarian supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip, an increasing number of whom are starving. But two days later the Pentagon said this process would take several weeks, likely up to 60 days and require over 1000 US marines to monitor the operation. In other words in addition to occupying Israeli forces, now American troops too are stationed in Gaza in the name of helping aid work. In truth US plan to boost relief work is a glaring distraction from the real problem. US initiatives to airdrop and ship aid to Gaza are all logistical workarounds to a political problem while allowing Israel to continue its ruthless military campaign unabated.

It is not that just the military stops the trucks. For months, a growing group of Israelis has been protesting at the crossings in order to prevent aid trucks from entering Gaza while police and security forces just look on. The situation is so horrible that Gazans—there are approximately 300,000 still living there—in sheer desperation, have reportedly resorted to eating animal feed and weeds. This is the reason for a large number of deaths from malnutrition.

In the absence of international pressure on Israel to change its policy of ‘burn all, kill all’, the human catastrophe in Gaza is likely to continue worsening as a growing number of Palestinians succumb to starvation.

Israeli soldiers shot at hungry Palestinians on February 29 which is now widely dubbed ‘Flour Massacre’ across the world. And it was followed by two subsequent killings by IDF personnel of hungry Palestinians scrambling for aid. This only adds to the mounting death toll among the uncounted and malnourished thousands battling the first signs of starvation.

Today, for Gazans who are still there braving all odds, every small thing is a struggle: getting medication for even the simplest disease. One can see the toll on faces as shown in the media, particularly in electronic media. They have lost weight, they are anaemic and pale. After five months of genocide, Palestinians feel betrayed. They have lost confidence in everyone around them.

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Vol 56, No. 40, Mar 31 - Apr 6, 2024