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Urgent action needed to prevent starvation in Gaza

After more than 100 days of war and Israeli siege, every single person in Gaza is hungry, and a quarter of the population—or around 500,000 people—is starving, UN experts warned on Jan. 16. The aid response is falling short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition, and disease, four UN agencies said, calling for a "fundamental step change in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza." Without it, deaths from starvation and disease could soon surpass the already staggering toll from bombardment and combat, which has reached nearly 25,000 people, according to health authorities in Gaza.

UN aid officials said there is still time to keep famine at bay, but that would require Israel to: allow more aid trucks to enter Gaza; provide humanitarian workers more freedom of movement; give safety guarantees to people seeking and distributing aid; and lift its total siege to allow commercial goods into the enclave. "This isn't just a question whereby setting up some soup kitchens and some mobile clinics will stop this humanitarian emergency," famine expert Alex de Waal told The New Humanitarian in an interview. "No matter how much aid is provided, if the destruction of objects indispensable to survival continues, the risk of famine will continue."

The deliberate starvation of civilians is a war crime, and the allegation that Israel is creating the risk of death from starvation in Gaza is central to the case being brought by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of genocide.

From The New Humanitarian, Jan. 19.

See our last report on genocide accusations against Israel.