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Israel using hunger as ‘weapon’ against Palestinians in Gaza: UN expert

February 6, 2024 at 2:48 pm

Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by volunteers at donation point as Israeli attacks continue in Rafah, Gaza on January 26, 2024 [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

Israel has been using disproportionate force against civilians and using hunger as a “weapon” in its attacks on Gaza since last October, said a UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Israel is clearly and systematically obstructing access to food for all civilians in Gaza,” Michael Fakhri told Anadolu on Tuesday.

“UN humanitarian teams reported that reaching everyone in need of food and water in Gaza is almost impossible due to Israel’s obstruction of humanitarian aid,” he added.

He highlighted that the blockade of food and water entering Gaza by Israel has led to famine in the region.

The latest UN data shows that about a quarter of Gaza’s population is suffering from hunger, while the rest are under-nourished, Fakhri noted.

Fakhri said there is no other conflict zone where access to clean water and food is so difficult.

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“Israel is destroying Gaza’s food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people,” he said.

“We know that 2.2 million people in Gaza are hungry. We have never seen so many people completely deprived of food before,” Fakhri warned.

Fakhri said Israel’s four months of attacks have deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, hospitals and bakeries.

Fakhri underscored that Israel’s obstruction of Gazans’ access to food is a “war crime”.

“Israel has made Gaza uninhabitable. This is clearly a war crime because indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian targets are taking place,” he said.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a 7 October attack by Hamas in which Tel Aviv says nearly 1,200 Israelis were killed.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

At least 27,585 Palestinians have been killed and 66,978 others injured in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, the Health Ministry in the enclave said on Monday.

The Israeli offensive has left 85 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

READ: UNRWA: About 100,000 dead, wounded or missing in Gaza