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Gaza faces genocide by starvation 

March 7, 2024 at 11:37 am

Members of the Palestinian diaspora, supported by the local Muslim community and activists, are taking part in a pro-Palestinian rally, starting at Churchill Square and proceeding through downtown Edmonton, Canada on March 2, 2024 [Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Imagine for a moment that you are at home, with your wife and children. It’s dinner time before you put your three children to sleep. The room is cold, the gas cylinder is empty, there’s no food, no electricity and no drinking water. There is no dinner at this dinner time, and many before it.

Your youngest child, Manar, is crying: “I’m hungry. We haven’t had food for four days.” She rubs her dry, bluish hands together. “I’m… cold.” The words barely escape through her chattering teeth.

You look at Manar closely; her already pale skin has lost its colour. The once bouncy, curly, black hair is tangled and knotted, unwashed for more than a month.

You ask your wife if she has looked high and low for any dry food. She takes a deep breath before answering.

“More than ten times. Our kitchen is as empty as our stomachs.” She looks at the cold floor in despair, her face a sorrowful mask.

“Press this against Manar’s stomach,” you say as you hand her a bag full of sand. “It’ll help her sleep, again.”

This isn’t the first time that you have had to put your children to sleep in this way. It’s now the norm; a common way for Palestinians in Gaza to suppress the pangs of hunger. Only when Manar stops crying, long after midnight, are you and your wife able to close your own eyes. None of you know what the coming day will bring.

READ: Gaza children may not survive famine, warns WHO chief

Unsure of the time, you jump up from the mattress on the floor when someone pounds on the door. It’s pandemonium outside. Your watch says 3:45 am. Your first thought is that the Israeli occupation forces are ordering residents to vacate the building before blowing it up, as they did elsewhere in the neighbourhood last week, dynamiting one block after another. Your whole family is awake now. Manar crawls to the corner with her siblings, and wraps herself around her mother.

It’s your brother Ali banging on the door, panting for air.

“Come, come, let’s go.” He pauses to catch his breath after running up the stairs. “Flour trucks… Nabulsi roundabout… Must go.” He steps aside when neighbours clump down the stairs from the upper floors.

Your children’s faces light up. Their eyes are wide open, waiting for you to respond.

“There were Israeli tanks at the roundabout,” you say. “They ordered me home yesterday and didn’t allow me to bring water.”

“The UN is distributing the flour. The Israelis allowed the trucks in. Let’s go before it’s too late.”

You turn your head towards your children. Manar’s focused eyes turn into a vacant stare, her mouth open. You clench your teeth, pull your winter coat from the hook, close the door behind you and follow Ali down to the street…

This is not my imagination at work here; it’s a small window on the reality of life endured by hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza for more than 150 days.

It is exactly what happened to thousands of starving fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in north Gaza in the prelude to the Flour Massacre last week. Israel used aid trucks to lure civilians into the dark pre-dawn night, before opening fire and killing and wounding almost 900 hungry Palestinians in cold blood. Their blood soaked into the flour sacks meant to feed hungry children.

In its efforts to render life in Gaza unbearable — to make the enclave unliveable, in the words of the UN — the occupation state of Israel has not only targeted essential civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, universities, water treatment plants, roads and places of worship, but also attacked the local police. This is intended to exacerbate the suffering and provoke a breakdown of law and order. Despite warnings from the US about targeting the police who manage the orderly distribution of food aid, Israel has shrugged them off as it seeks to promote lawlessness and chaos to add to the starvation and justify its actions, as it tried to do after the Flour Massacre.

Western journalists are banned from entering Gaza unless they are embedded with the Israel occupation forces, but have nevertheless become willing outlets to market the Zionist state’s disinformation cloaked in euphemisms to obscure the grim reality on the ground. Outlets like CNN and the BBC, for example, referred to the killing of 112 hungry Palestinians and the wounding of 760 other human beings as “Gaza food aid carnage” in “a chaotic encounter with Israeli troops”, blaming the deaths on stampedes and truck drivers. Basically, they blamed the victims. They then broadcast, uncritically (which is astonishing, given Israel’s propensity for lying), Israeli-manipulated videos showing the results of the Israeli-orchestrated chaos and claims that the hungry crowd posed a threat to occupation troops.

READ: Over 100 active duty US military personnel condemn Israel war crimes in Gaza

This was no different to earlier misinformation propagated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when hosting Mark Regev, Israel’s own Joseph Goebbels-like figure, on 15 November. Blitzer opened the show by saying, “Happening now, the Israeli military says it uncovered Hamas weapons and a command centre inside Gaza’s largest hospital.” Needless to say, it was a lie. In spite of Australian-born Regev’s abject disregard for telling the truth, he was on CNN again this week to market the Flour Massacre by spinning yet more lies, and yet again without challenge. He claimed that there was no Israeli involvement in the gunfire and blamed it on “Palestinian armed groups.”

CNN, like most of the US and European news outlets, is a platform for pro-Israel propaganda, with Israeli-embedded hosts such as Blitzer who honed his journalistic prowess as a propogandist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), serving as an editor for its Near East Report in the mid-1970s. AIPAC is the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the US.

It wasn’t until Al Jazeera aired a video showing the “chaotic” scene amidst heavy gunfire around the food truck, along with footage revealing bullet injuries in the torsos of victims, that some US outlets, such as the New York Times, which espouses faux professionalism, felt that they couldn’t continue ignoring the flagrant Israeli lies. The paper revisited the Israeli drone video that was made available to compliant media outlets. After careful review, the newspaper concluded that the footage had been altered with “multiple clips spliced together”. The edits conveniently omitted the events just before the crowd dispersed in all directions, evading bullets, scrambling over trucks, seeking cover behind vehicles and structures, and falling to the ground from direct gunfire.

It is important to point out that the targeting of aid trucks at the Nabulsi roundabout was not the first Israeli obstruction of the delivery of food aid in Gaza. Nor is it likely to be the last. Approximately three weeks earlier, on 6 February, Israel fired upon a crowd gathering at the Kuwaiti roundabout, while naval gunboats targeted UNRWA humanitarian food trucks. Three days after the Flour Massacre, on 3 March, Israel once again opened fire on a hungry crowd awaiting food trucks, this time at the Kuwaiti roundabout, resulting in the killing and wounding of several Palestinian civilians.

OPINION: UNRWA means more than a sack of rice and bowl of soup

The submissive prostration of Western media, providing unchallenged platforms for Israeli PR spokespersons, is unprecedented in the so called “free world”. By agreeing to Israeli directives restricting media access into Gaza, Western mainstream media has no on the ground presence to report from the war zone. It has been transformed into an active participant in whitewashing Israeli genocide whereby Gaza coverage is dictated, directly and indirectly, by Israeli hasbara (propaganda). This was evident in what was shown and said about the Flour Massacre. To paraphrase what Goebbels himself said, Western mainstream media has become “a keyboard on which Israel plays.”

In fact, Western, and particularly American genuflection to Israel extends beyond the media. Almost two weeks ago, the White House National Security Communications Advisor, John Kirby, disparaged the US army, praising the Israeli occupation forces for taking action to protect civilians (really?), by saying that he was “not sure our own [US] military would take” similar action.

When asked about the murder of hungry civilians in Gaza, Kirby’s boss, “Genocide Joe” Biden, pleaded ignorance: “There’s two competing versions of what happened. I don’t have an answer yet.”

In avoiding answering the question, the US president accorded equal credence to the Israeli disinformation machine. In keeping with his standing, Biden is consistent in his anti-Palestinian bias hyperbolising Israeli victimhood, while downplaying Israeli crimes against Palestinians under the pretext of not having enough information.

This week and after five months of pleading for Israel to allow more aid trucks into Gaza, Biden joined other inept Arab dictators in an inconsequential gesture by airdropping 38,000 meals to 2.4 million desperately hungry Palestinians in Gaza. This PR stunt was aimed more at mollifying international outrage against Israel than a genuine desire to alleviate the mounting starvation levels in Gaza.

The made for TV theatrical airdrop was like a grain of sand on the beach of Gaza. The parachuted meals were equivalent to providing a minuscule 0.005 of a daily meal for every person in Gaza, or the equivalent of offering five loaves of bread per 1,000 people. The farce rings hollow from an administration planning to send Israel almost $15 billion in “aid”, in addition to the weapons and political cover that it needs to carry out the very siege (and starvation) that the airdrops were supposedly intended to mitigate. The starvation in Gaza is not due to a drought or a natural disaster; it is entirely Israeli made, enabled by Biden and other Western leaders, and blessed by Arab dictators.

As you read this, remember your brother Ali who woke you to tell you about the flour truck on the Nabulsi roundabout. Was he one of those killed or injured in the Flour Massacre? His children, if alive, are still hungry and cold at home, watching through a broken window as US aid parcels parachute from the skies accompanied by the roar of US-made jets delivering 2000-pound bombs onto their heads.

You still have Manar, assuming that she wasn’t among the 15 or more children known to have died from malnutrition and dehydration this week. Are you and your family ever likely to forget how the Israeli-made starvation drove your brother, your children’s much-loved uncle, to his death in this genocide by starvation?

OPINION: The occupation state is using starvation in Gaza to deceive everyone

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.