While world leaders continue to try and defend the indefensible, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a tool designed to improve world food security, warns that famine is imminent in the north of Gaza and could be expected between mid-March and May. At the same time, more than 70% of the population is facing “catastrophic hunger”. Commenting on these findings on Monday, Oxfam pulls no punches. Their interim Chief Executive, Aleema Shivji, said:

“This is nothing more than a man-made crisis. The extreme suffering of the population is the direct result of the continued bombardment and displacement of Palestinians. Starvation is being used as a weapon of war.

“Never before have we seen such rapid deterioration into widespread starvation. Northern Gaza is days away from famine and without urgent action the rest of Gaza faces a similar fate. Children are already dying of malnutrition and starvation under the gaze of the international community.

“Israel is blocking food and aid from going into Gaza and has been using starvation as a weapon of war for over five months now. Israel’s deliberate manufacturing of suffering is systemic and of such scale and intensity that it creates a real risk of a genocide in Gaza.”

Shocking as this is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gaza has been under complete siege, and food supplies have been cut off since Israel launched its war on 7th October, 2023.

And, of course, Oxfam is not alone in its analysis of Israel’s culpability. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, also has no doubts that Israel is “provoking famine” in Gaza. He also accuses Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war.

The facts are that, while 70% of Gaza’s population is facing catastrophic levels of hunger, and while there has been a steep rise in acute malnutrition, with people resorting to eating animal fodder and other extreme measures to survive, aid agencies are being deliberately stopped from reaching people in dire need.

Once again, it has been left to South Africa to intervene to try and prevent Israel’s apparent genocidal intent.  South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order additional emergency measures against Israel.

In its application, South Africa warns that Palestinians in Gaza are facing starvation and asks the court to order that all parties cease hostilities and release all hostages and detainees.

The response from Israel to this application is further evidence that the world is not dealing with a rational democracy with shared humanitarian values but an out of control, vengeful state.

Israel describes South Africa’s request for increased humanitarian aid to address the famine as “morally repugnant.” It even claims that it has real concern for the humanitarian situation, and this is demonstrated by its actions. As these actions and the results are being played out in real time in front of an audience of millions, it is difficult to know what evidence they will produce to support these assertions.

It then goes on to argue that South Africa’s accusations are “wholly unfounded in fact and in law and represent an abuse both of the Genocide Convention and the court itself.”

In this topsy turvy world of geopolitics more reports will be produced by desperate aid agencies. Nation states will continue to argue about how far they can reasonably push Israel to allow a trickle of aid into the region, whilst at the same time supplying them with the weapons they are using to terrorise the population, and Palestinian parents will watch their children slowly starve to death.  

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said on X, “The international community should hang its head in shame for failing to stop this.”

The reality is that Netanyahu’s aim of wiping out Hamas is unattainable. Even American intelligence has accepted this. As a result, the people in Gaza are at serious risk from an out-of-control government that is becoming increasingly brutal in its attempt to achieve the unachievable.

It is incomprehensible that those with the power to intervene are not doing so. The consequences, not only for the people of Gaza but also the region and, ultimately, the rest of the world, are potentially catastrophic.

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