Israel’s 'imposed starvation' on Gaza providing deadly for children

Israel’s 'imposed starvation' on Gaza providing deadly for children
Human Rights Watch have called on governments to impose targeted sanctions on Israel as more children die from starvation-related complications in Gaza.
3 min read
09 April, 2024
Palestinians in Gaza are facing starvation as a result of the ongoing Israeli siege and bombardment [GETTY]

Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, causing children to die of starvation-related complications, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Tuesday.

The rights organisation has called on governments around the world to impose targeted sanctions and suspend arms transfers, forcing Israel to allow humanitarian aid and basic services into Gaza.

"The Israeli government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war has proven deadly for children in Gaza," said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at HRW. 

"Israel needs to end this war crime, stop this suffering, and allow humanitarian aid to reach all of Gaza unhindered."

Gaza has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis after six months of a relentless and indiscriminate Israeli bombing campaign which began on 7 October last year, following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel.

The Palestinian ministry of health announced on 1 April that 32 Palestinians, including 28 children, have so far died from malnutrition and dehydration at hospitals in northern Gaza.

HRW staff who have reviewed death certificates for children in Gaza, and verified pictures and videos found signs of emaciation.

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Doctor Hussam Abu Safiya, the head of Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital's paediatric unit, said that 16 of the children who have died so far were under five months old.

He added that one of the infants died only two days after he was born because his mother "had no milk to give him".

A doctor who volunteered at the European hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza told HRW that it was difficult to treat malnutrition and dehydration, particularly as they lacked essential items such as glucose, electrolytes and feeding tubes.

At least 15 UN affiliated organisations and agencies have said that "all evidence points towards a major acceleration of death and malnutrition", in Gaza.

People in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day since January, Oxfam said last week.

This meagre amount represents less than 12 percent of the recommended daily 2,100 calorie intake needed per person. 

According to HRW, international humanitarian law prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of war.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that intentionally starving civilians through depriving them of "objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies" amounts to a war crime.

Last month, the World Health Organisation said that the current situation will have long-term effects on the lives and health of thousands.

The organisation reported that "virtually all households" are already skipping meals daily and that adults are reducing their meals so their children can eat.

"Malnutrition was a rare occurrence. Now, people are dying, and many more are sick. Over a million people are expected to face catastrophic hunger unless significantly more food is allowed to enter Gaza," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.