Israel starves Gaza

The Israeli genocide on Gaza is entering its sixth month. At time of writing, the official death toll is over 32,000, over 70% of whom are women and children. Over 13,000 children, 1 in every 100 children in Gaza, have been killed. More than 74,000 people have been injured. These are only the official numbers from the Gaza Health Ministry, which stated months ago that it had lost the capacity to reliably count the casualties; the true number is likely to be much higher.

Alongside the wanton murder of civilians in military operations, Israel has pursued a policy of deliberately starving Gaza. For the last six months Israel has severely restricted aid and supplies from entering the territory. Before last October, 500 trucks of supplies were entering Gaza daily to meet the needs of its population; as the genocide began, the number was cut to roughly 15 trucks per day. Under international pressure, the Zionists have now raised this to 150 trucks per day. More than 2,000 trucks each with about 20 tons with material aid are blocked at Israeli-controlled border crossings into Gaza, obstructed by both the Israeli government and, increasingly, blockades organised by Israeli citizens themselves, intent on completing the ethnic cleansing of Gaza’s civilian population.

The result has been an engineered famine which threatens to kill even more Palestinians than the Zionist military onslaught. According to a report released in March by the Famine Review Committee (FRC), ‘the catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation in Gaza are the highest ever recorded… both in terms of number of people and percentage of the population. Never before have we seen such rapid deterioration into widespread starvation.’ The report estimated 677,000 Palestinians in Gaza, 32% of the population, are in ‘catastrophic’ conditions and a further 41% are in ‘emergency’ conditions. It projected that over one million will be in ‘catastrophic’ or ‘famine’ conditions within weeks. Dozens of children have already succumbed to malnourishment and dehydration, conditions which will accelerate rapidly if a massive increase of aid is not implemented immediately. Epidemiologists have projected that, if the current conditions persist, the death toll in Gaza could rise to almost 200,000 people by August; if the conditions worsen, the toll could be even higher.

Far from heeding these reports, the Israeli state is intensifying its starvation campaign. Days after the FRC report was published, it announced that it would be stopping food convoys sent by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a vital lifeline of aid to Palestinians, from entering the north of Gaza. This move came after a report released by UNRWA that said Israel had captured and tortured its staff into confessing to participation in the 7 October Palestinian action. Many of Israel’s allies, including Britain, used these confessions to cut funding to UNRWA altogether – an act designed to further enable Israel’s genocidal campaign. Neither Britain nor the US has restored such funding. At least 168 members of UNRWA have been killed by Israeli forces since October; Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he wants UNRWA to be eliminated altogether.

Rather than force its ally to end its restrictions of aid to Gaza, Washington has made itself a willing accomplice to Israel’s war crimes. In March, the US announced that it would be building a temporary pier in Gaza, ostensibly to enable aid to enter Gaza by sea. This is a blatant lie; if the US seriously wanted to see aid to Gaza increased, it could compel Israel to stop blocking the thousands of trucks it is currently holding at its borders. On the contrary, one of the true purposes of the port was revealed in comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a private meeting of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee suggesting that the port would be used to deport Palestinians from Gaza.

All the while, Israel is continuing to prepare a massive ground offensive into Rafah. Located in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, Rafah has become the last refuge of over a million Palestinian refugees fleeing other areas in Gaza; it is also the site of a major crossing into Gaza from Egypt. Many of these refugees have been displaced multiple times as the Israeli military has progressed from the north to the south of the strip, annihilating civilian infrastructure and homes. The consequences of an assault on Rafah would be so severe that it has even garnered rare criticism from the United States, usually a stalwart defender of Israel’s most heinous crimes. Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Ron Dermer, responded by saying that the Rafah invasion would proceed ‘even if the whole world is against Israel, including the United States’.

Israel’s objective in Gaza is clear for the world to see: the complete ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population, whether by death or deportation. Half a year into this genocide, it is also clear that Israel’s imperialist allies in Washington, London and elsewhere have seemingly no intention of stopping it. It is critical that the ongoing anti-Zionist campaigns around the world intensify in order to bring an end to the genocide and to imperialism’s deadly support for the Zionist regime.

Wesam Khaled