Gaza children dying in Israel’s ‘starvation campaign’: U.N. experts

Smoke rises from Gaza, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel on July 9, 2024.

Smoke rises from Gaza, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel on July 9, 2024.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

U.N. rights experts on July 9 accused Israel of carrying out a “targeted starvation campaign” that has resulted in the deaths of children in Gaza.

“Israel’s intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza,” 10 independent United Nations experts said in a statement.

The U.N. has not officially declared a famine in the Gaza Strip.

But the experts, including the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri, insisted there was no denying famine was under way.

“Thirty-four Palestinians have died from malnutrition since 7 October, the majority being children,” said the experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, but who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

Also Read | UNICEF finds 90% of Gaza’s children lack food needed for proper growth

Israel’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva slammed the statement, charging that “Mr. Fakhri, and many so-called ‘experts’ who joined (him), are as much accustomed to spreading misinformation, as they are to supporting Hamas propaganda and shielding the terrorist organisation from scrutiny”.


The U.N. experts meanwhile listed three children who had recently died “from malnutrition”, after a number of others were said to have starved to death in northern Gaza earlier this year.

Six-month-old Fayez Ataya and 13-year-old Abdulqader Al-Serhi had died on May 30 and June 1 at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Hospital, while nine-year-old Ahmad Abu Reida died on June 3 in the tent sheltering his displaced family in Khan Yunis, they said.

“With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza,” they said.

The experts decried that the world had not done more to avert this disaster.

“When a two-month-old baby and 10-year-old Yazan Al Kafarneh died of hunger on 24 February and 4 March respectively, this confirmed that famine had struck northern Gaza,” they said.

“The whole world should have intervened earlier to stop Israel’s genocidal starvation campaign and prevented these deaths.”

“Inaction is complicity.”

Gaza has been facing a deep humanitarian crisis since the war erupted following Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

In response, Israel has carried out a military offensive that has killed at least 38,243 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

‘Starvation warfare’

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that 60 cases of severe acute malnutrition, also known as severe wasting —the most deadly form of malnutrition — had been detected last week at the Kamal Adwan paediatric hospital in the north of the Strip.

The U.N. has long been warning of looming famine, especially in the north, but one has not been officially declared.

Also Read | The politics of humanitarian aid

The Israeli mission highlighted Tuesday that the latest assessment by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) partnership determined that famine had not materialised after aid access improved somewhat.

“Israel has continuously scaled up its coordination and assistance in the delivery of humanitarian aid across the Gaza Strip,” it said, claiming Hamas “intentionally steal and hide aid from civilians”.

Hamas authorities meanwhile issued a statement Tuesday describing a “humanitarian catastrophe and escalating famine”.

They accused “the terrorist Israeli government” of continuing “its policy of starvation”, and “preventing the entry of food aid trucks for the 64th consecutive day”.

“Continued starvation warfare threatens a humanitarian disaster and further loss of innocent children,” that statement warned.

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