Elderly man dies of hunger, dehydration in Gaza, with northern areas in state of famine

Elderly man dies of hunger, dehydration in Gaza, with northern areas in state of famine
A quarter of Gaza's population is believed to be in catastrophic levels of hunger, as humanitarian agencies urge Israel to open up further aid access.
3 min read
05 March, 2024
Humanitarian officials have warned for months that Gaza is at risk of famine unless Israel changes its war [GETTY]

An elderly man has died in Gaza from dehydration and malnutrition, as concerns rise that the northern areas are in a state of famine following months of siege by Israeli forces and limited aid access.

Abdulrahman al-Dahdouh, from Zeitoun in west Gaza, died on Monday at Al-Shifa Hospital after suffering from starvation, doctors told Arabic media.

Al-Dahdouh is the latest Palestinian to starve to death in the territory as the international community and UN agencies urge for a ceasefire in the five-month-old war between Israel and Hamas to allow more aid into the war-ravaged Strip.

On Monday, the health ministry in Gaza said that 15 children had died in the north Gaza governorate due to hunger and malnutrition.

More than half a million people are believed to be living in famine-like conditions in Gaza and one in six children under the age of two in north Gaza are suffering from 'acute malnutrition and wasting'.

Humanitarian agencies have told The New Arab that they have been facing major challenges in distributing supplies as aid convoys come under attack from Israeli fire and a collapse in local authorities has seen a state of lawlessness take over.

For months, the international community, alongside health workers in Gaza, have urged Israel to allow more aid into the territory and desist from attacking medical facilities and UN shelters.

In February, the World Food Programme said it had become too dangerous for its trucks to deliver aid to the north, despite serious concerns over the fate of the 300,000 Palestinians living there who have been cut off from outside access for months.

In an unprecedented step, the US and Jordan, have begun to airdrop aid parcels into north Gaza – in a sign suggesting that Israel cannot be persuaded even by its closest allies to open up more border crossings.

Alarming reports have since emerged of people being forced to eat animal food and grass for survival while humanitarian actors say they cannot collect enough data to declare a famine in the north until they can access the area.

UK charity Action for Hunger told The New Arab last week that in Gaza "extreme food shortages are leading to severe malnutrition and loss of life".

Journalist Ismail al-Ghoul from the Al-Jazeera Arabic network posted a graphic video on his X account depicting al-Dahdouh's skeleton frame and pale body.

He said: "I apologise for the distressing nature of the scene but it is necessary to mention the martyrdom of Hajj Abdulrahman al-Dahdouh as a result of dehydration and malnutrition".

In response to the reports of deaths from hunger, the UN called on the international community to "flood" Gaza with aid amid reports that children are dying of starvation in the war-torn enclave.

"With children starting… to die from starvation, that should be an alarm like no other," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warned on Monday of "grim findings" at hospitals in the north following the agency’s first official visit to the area in five months.

In a post on X, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were "severe levels of malnutrition, children dying of starvation, serious shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies and hospital buildings destroyed".