Skip to main content

Hungry Palestinians in Gaza eating animal feed to survive

Palestinians in Gaza eating animal feed to survive as NGOs condemn Israel's use of hunger as weapon of war
3 min read
20 February, 2024
Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of aid - including water, food, and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance.
More than 90 percent of children under five in Gaza eat two or fewer food groups a day, known as severe food poverty [Getty]

Palestinians in Gaza are resorting to eating animal feed to stay alive amid unprecedented levels of hunger resulting from Israel's complete siege and bombardment of the impoverished enclave.

According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, Gaza's entire 2.3 million population is currently classified as facing either crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

Images have been shared on social media showing people, particularly in the north of Gaza, eating grass, weeds, and animal feed.

More and more people were on the brink of famine-like conditions as a result of more than four months of constant bombardment and a siege on the strip.

ActionAid told The New Arab that the situation was likely to worsen as people were running out of animal feed to eat, saying the situation was "unprecedented and totally avoidable".

The international charity was one of 15 leading NGOs to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and a massive increase in humanitarian assistance to avoid famine in Gaza, according to a statement received by TNA on Tuesday.

Israeli forces are blocking the delivery of aid - including water, food, and fuel - while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, razing agricultural areas, and depriving Palestinians of items indispensable to their survival.

Satellite imagery showed the destruction of many fishing ports, markets, greenhouses, and agricultural land.

The risk of famine was increasing each day in Gaza due to the continuation of hostilities, and the continued blockade of Gaza.

The UNHuman Rights Watch, and other humanitarian organisations have warned that starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is being used in Gaza - a move deemed illegal under International Humanitarian Law, and in direct breach of UNSC Resolution 2417.

The Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC) analysis results from the end of 2023 found the entire population was living with crisis-level hunger and one in four households - more than half a million people - face catastrophic conditions.

This marked the highest proportion of any population in a

food security crisis and above on the IPC's global records.

Virtually all Palestinian households in Gaza were skipping meals each day, Action Against Hunger told TNA, adding that some families go days and nights without eating.

The destruction of food production and distribution infrastructure and the restriction of commercial imports have reduced access to food.

On 25 January, the OCHA reported that only 15 of the 97 bakeries operating in Gaza before October 7 were still operational.

Live Story

A report by the Global Nutrition Cluster, an aid partnership led by the UN children's agency, UNICEF, said on Monday that more than 90 percent of children under five in Gaza eat two or fewer food groups a day, known as severe food poverty.

A similar percentage were affected by infectious diseases, with 70 percent experiencing diarrhoea in the last two weeks.

More than 80 percent of homes lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one litre per person per day, according to the report.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, the acute malnutrition rate was five percent, compared to 15 percent in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli forces and largely cut off from aid for months.

Before the war the rate across Gaza was less than 1 percent, the report said.

"The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths, which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza," UNICEF official Ted Chaiban said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to allege that it does not restrict the import of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.