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UN Experts: Israel’s “Genocidal Starvation” Has Created Famine in All of Gaza

Israel’s “targeted starvation campaign” against Palestinians in Gaza is a form of “genocidal violence,” they said.

Palestinians line up for meal rations at a communal food distribution point in Deir al-Balah in the besieged Gaza Strip on June 10, 2024.

A group of UN human rights experts have released a statement saying that famine is underway across the entirety of Gaza as a result of what they called Israel’s “genocidal starvation campaign,” as international powers have declined to issue a formal declaration on the matter so far.

In a statement released Tuesday, a group of UN special rapporteurs and other experts cited the recent deaths of young children and babies in northern, central and southern Gaza as evidence that Israel is manufacturing a famine.

“Fayez Ataya, who was barely six months old, died on 30 May 2024 and 13-year-old Abdulqader Al-Serhi died on 1 June 2024 at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah. Nine-year-old Ahmad Abu Reida died on 3 June 2024 in the tent sheltering his displaced family in Al-Mawasi, Khan Younis,” the group said. “All three children died from malnutrition and lack of access to adequate healthcare.”

“With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza,” they continued.

When a child is killed from starvation and dehydration in a conflict, the group said, it is a telltale sign that infrastructure has been destroyed to the point that famine is present. Each of these deaths is horrific, with some babies killed by Israel’s campaign of extermination before their families were even able to name them.

Indeed, Israel has worked diligently in the last nine months to destroy all systems that support life in Gaza — a goal that was apparent from their concerted attacks on food, water, education and health systems just in the first weeks of the genocide. In recent months, Israel has only worsened its humanitarian aid blockade, forcing tens of thousands of children in Gaza to experience crisis levels of hunger.

Since October, at least 34 Palestinians have died from malnutrition, according to Palestinian officials. However, the true number of deaths from Israel’s starvation campaign is likely unable to be accounted for due to Israel’s destruction, and may be far, far higher.

“We declare that Israel’s intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza,” the UN experts said. “When a 2-month-old baby and 10-year-old Yazan Al Kafarneh died of hunger on 24 February and 4 March respectively, this confirmed that famine had struck northern Gaza. The whole world should have intervened earlier to stop Israel’s genocidal starvation campaign and prevented these deaths.”

International organizations have thus far declined to formally declare famine, with the decision typically led by the UN and based on evidence from the UN-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The most recent IPC report has found that at least half a million people in Gaza are facing famine-level hunger, but officials have cited the strict guidelines and long timeline for a famine declaration as reasons a declaration has not yet happened for Gaza.

Regardless of the formal declaration, experts have said that Israel’s starvation campaign is unprecedented in modern times, and could be stopped if Israel and allied governments like the U.S. chose to stop it. In January, a UN expert noted that Palestinians in Gaza made up 80 percent of the global population experiencing famine — and Israel has drastically reduced the amount of aid entering Gaza since then.

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