Thu 01 Feb 2024 2:34 pm - Jerusalem Time

A humanitarian tragedy is worsening... War, famine, and epidemics converge on Gaza

Experts warn that mass starvation is looming in Gaza on a scale unprecedented in modern history, according to Alex DeWall, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University in Boston, and author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine.

Dewal says that before the war broke out in October, food security in Gaza was precarious, but very few children – less than 1% – were suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the most serious type. Today, “almost all Gazans, of any age, anywhere in the region, are at risk.”

Not since World War II has an entire population fallen into extreme hunger and destitution so quickly. There has never been a case in which the need for international commitment to stop this has been so clear.

Dewal warns that the famine in Gaza is man-made and the result of a deliberate Israeli policy of collective punishment. It would not have been possible to push the population to the brink of the abyss so quickly had it not been for the decision to place Gaza under siege by cutting off supplies of food, water, fuel and medicine. “The small amount of aid that has been allowed in since then cannot begin to meet the needs of more than two million people, especially after all of them were forcibly displaced,” he says. “And now, even the limited assistance provided by UNRWA is at risk due to the malicious and cynical decision that "The United States and other Western governments have taken action to cut off funding for the agency."

On Wednesday, CNN broadcast a report on the poor conditions that people are currently living in, noting that “those who are still in northern Gaza are forced to eat grass, while the lack of safe drinking water means that people are drinking contaminated water. Cases of diarrhea have increased.” "Among children under the age of five, it has increased by 2,000% since the beginning of the war. For young, malnourished children living in these conditions, diarrhea greatly increases the risk of death."

The Washington Post reported that some people in Gaza have resorted to grinding animal feed into bread so that they have something to eat.

There is no doubt that Israel is responsible for creating these conditions, according to Diwal. As UN human rights experts have said, “Israel is destroying Gaza’s food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people,” while the Israeli government continues to deny the existence of any famine in Gaza, underscoring how little it cares about the civilian population in the blockaded enclave.

“Merely allowing aid in and placing some limits on Israeli military action will not stop this thundering train of disaster fast enough,” de Waal wrote. “An immediate ceasefire and full restoration of humanitarian aid are the minimum requirements to prevent the worst outcomes. Even if all “That tomorrow, thousands of people, most of them children, will still die of hunger and disease due to the harsh conditions that already exist throughout the province.”

“If nothing is done to stop the famine,” he says, “this number will rise sharply in the coming weeks and months. The worst can still be prevented, but there are no major international efforts underway to do so, and unless Israel follows the recommendations of the Famine Relief Commission.” "It will deliberately cause mass death due to hunger and disease."


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A humanitarian tragedy is worsening... War, famine, and epidemics converge on Gaza