Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Countering
Item 7

THE UNHRC'S STANDING AGENDA ITEM
TARGETING ISRAEL

Claims

Claim 47: Israel is Using Starvation as a Weapon of War in Gaza Post-October 7th

examples

Bangladesh, 55th session

“We highly appreciate, Madame special rapporteur’s works in documenting unspeakable Israeli atrocities, including use of starvation as a method of warfare in Gaza.”

the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), 55th session

“Israel, the occupying power, continues to use the weapon of starvation while preventing access to humanitarian help.”

OIC, 55th session

“In the besieged Gaza Strip, the occupying power has unleashed acts amounting to the crimes of Genocide and ethnic cleansing against Palestinian civilians, including through starvation…”

Turkey, 55th session

“Atrocities coupled with starvation in particular of women and children as well as the settler violence…”

Luxembourg, 55th session

“Hunger is used as a weapon…”

Brazil, 55th session

“We condemn the use of hunger and destruction of health infrastructure as weapons of war…”

Our Response

UN Watch

UN Watch Response

The accusation by Turkey, Bangladesh, Brazil, Luxembourg, and others that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza is an outright lie. If that were the case, Israel would not be facilitating the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid, as it has been consistently doing since the early days of the war.[1] The Gaza death toll would also be much higher than it is after more than six months of war. Moreover, Gazans would not be posting photos and videos of themselves on social media shopping in busy food markets and preparing meals—clearly not on the brink of starvation.[2] Notably, the World Food Programme (WFP) has confirmed the activity in food markets throughout Gaza, including sales of humanitarian aid, contradicting claims of starvation.[3]

This accusation is based on a report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) claiming that famine is imminent in Gaza and that 1.1 million people there are experiencing catastrophic food insecurity.[4] However, COGAT, the IDF unit responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid to Gaza, blasted that report for “multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious.” Among other things, COGAT explained that the IPC significantly underreported the amount of water available per person per day in Gaza as 1 liter instead of 20 liters, lacked up-to-date data, relied on misleading information from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, and ignored public evidence on the availability of food throughout Gaza, including in the North.[5]

Israel’s conduct throughout the war to facilitate aid to Gaza goes well beyond its obligations under international law[6] and proves the opposite of this accusation—i.e., that Israel is acting to prevent famine by ensuring Gazans in need have access to food. While the humanitarian situation in Gaza is difficult due to the war started by Hamas on October 7th, it is being constantly monitored by an expert staff which includes input from international organizations and the private sector in Gaza.[7] Furthermore, Israel is not acting alone. The humanitarian effort is coordinated between Israel, Egypt, the United States, and the UN through a joint coordination room, daily assessments, and a designated task force.[8]

Data on food entering Gaza since the start of the war contradicts the IPC’s claim of imminent famine. In its October 2023 Emergency Response Report for Gaza, the WFP indicated that 951 metric tons of food was sufficient to feed 488,000 people for one week.[9] Thus, 4.5 times that amount would be needed (~4,280 metric tons) to feed the entire 2.2 million population of Gaza for one week and ~111,280 metric tons would be needed to feed all of Gaza for six months. Data published by both the UN and COGAT shows that as of April 4, 2024, approximately six months into the war, some 13,000 trucks of food have entered Gaza, which amounts to 272,000 tons of food, more than double the required amount according to the WFP.[10]

Moreover, while the total number of trucks entering Gaza since before October 7th has decreased overall, the number of food trucks entering Gaza since October 7th has doubled.[11] At the same time, it appears that the UN lacks the logistical capacity to distribute the volume of aid entering. COGAT has repeatedly criticized the UN for failing to process all trucks entering the Strip in a given day.[12]

Thanks to Israel’s efforts early in the war to evacuate Gazan’s southward away from the most intense fighting,[13] most Gazans are currently in the south where food is readily available from aid agencies and in markets.[14] While distribution of food to northern Gaza is more challenging, in early March 2024, Israel took a number of steps to improve humanitarian access to the North, including facilitating airdrops[15] and opening new land and sea routes.[16] In addition, in early April, Israel agreed to open the Ashdod port and the Erez crossing, and to increase aid deliveries from Jordan.[17] Food is available in the North as well.[18]

Significantly, it is Hamas, not Israel, that is the party responsible for obstructing access to aid for Gazans. Hamas has been documented hoarding and stealing the humanitarian aid meant for Gazans, as well as shooting Gazans attempting to get aid.[19] In March 2024, Hamas warned Gazans against cooperating with Israel to secure aid deliveries.[20]

 

In short, Israel’s extensive efforts to ensure humanitarian aid in Gaza contradict any claims that it is using starvation as a weapon of war.

[1] 1st aid trucks enter Gaza as number of confirmed hostages held in Strip reaches 210, Times of Israel (October 21, 2023), https://www.timesofisrael.com/1st-aid-trucks-enter-gaza-as-number-of-confirmed-hostages-held-in-strip-reaches-210/; Hamas-Israel Conflict 2023: Frequently Asked Questions, Israel MFA (December 6, 2023), https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/General/swords-of-iron-faq-6-dec-2023#5.

[2] See, e.g., @imshin, Twitter (January 11, 2024, 2:59 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1745430228380340291 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 10:31 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1777056669492502789 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 8:53 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1777031932850630707 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 5, 2024, 5:25 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776254893302440098 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 23, 2024, 8:58 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1771612476955570257 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 22, 2024, 11:11 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1771102288469205334 (South Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 10:40 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776877667045847329 (Central Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 5, 2024, 8:07 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776114359405523444 (Central Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 5, 2024, 8:57 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776127009086685453 (Central Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 24, 2024, 7:38 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1771773558798082532 (Central Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 23, 2024, 8:06 AM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1771599386818007046 (Central Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 8:37 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1777028059079569587 (North Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 4:02 PM),  https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776958649434353866 (North Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 7, 2024, 3:00 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776943044014551468 (North Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (April 5, 2024, 4:38 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1776243123246506009 (North Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 30, 2024, 9:48 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1774146620067565640 (North Gaza); @imshin, Twitter (March 23, 2024, 8:27 PM), https://twitter.com/imshin/status/1771604643509948697 (North Gaza).

[3] 2023/24 – WFP Palestine – Monthly Market Dashboard, WFP (Last visited April 8, 2024), https://www.wfp.org/publications/202324-wfp-palestine-monthly-market-dashboard.

[4] GAZA STRIP: Famine is imminent as 1.1 million people, half of Gaza, experience catastrophic food insecurity, IPC (March 18, 2024), https://www.ipcinfo.org/ipcinfo-website/alerts-archive/issue-97/en/.

[5] Food and food security in the Gaza Strip – response to IPC report, COGAT (March 2024), https://govextra.gov.il/media/dgibjjca/cogat-assessment-food-and-food-security-in-the-gaza-strip-response-to-ipc-report.pdf.

[6] See, e.g., Article 23, Convention (IV) relative to the protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Geneva, August 12, 1949), https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/ihl-treaties/gciv-1949/article-23/1000 (High contracting parties should allow transfers of food and other aid to enemy civilians as long as it “there are no serious reasons to fear” that the provisions will be diverted or will end up advantaging the enemy military which would otherwise have to provide for its civilians).

[7] Israel’s humanitarian efforts, COGAT (Last visited April 8, 2024), https://govextra.gov.il/cogat/humanitarian-efforts/home/; Israel-Hamas Conflict 2023: Humanitarian Efforts, Israel MFA (December 14, 2023), https://www.gov.il/en/departments/general/israel-hamas-conflict-2023-humanitarian-efforts.

[8] Id.

[9] WFP Palestine Emergency Response External Situation Report #3, WFP (October 18, 2023), https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/wfp-palestine-emergency-response-external-situation-report-3-18-october-2023.

[10] GAZA: Supplies and Dispatch Tracking, UNRWA (Last visited April 8, 2024), https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiZTVkYmEwNmMtZWYxNy00ODhlLWI2ZjctNjIzMzQ5OGQxNzY5IiwidCI6IjI2MmY2YTQxLTIwZTktNDE0MC04ZDNlLWZkZjVlZWNiNDE1NyIsImMiOjl9&pageName=ReportSection3306863add46319dc574; Israel’s humanitarian efforts, COGAT (Last visited April 8, 2024) (Data as of April 4, 2024), https://govextra.gov.il/cogat/humanitarian-efforts/home/; see also @Aizenberg55, Twitter (March 24, 2024, 3:52 PM), https://twitter.com/Aizenberg55/status/1771897793147257338.

[11] @cogatonline, Twitter (April 1, 2024, 12:24 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1774729438866940408; @Aizenberg55, Twitter (November 27, 2023, 5:29 PM), https://twitter.com/Aizenberg55/status/1729160493376610575.

[12] See, e.g., @cogatonline, Twitter (March 30, 2024, 10:16 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1774153802511167767; @cogatonline, Twitter (March 29, 2024, 1:39 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1773661183758770675; @cogatonline, Twitter (March 24, 2024, 3:09 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1771887185161069023; @cogatonline, Twitter (March 7, 2024, 9:02 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1765815235003232722;

[13] Israel Opens Another ‘Safe Passage’ for Gazans to Move South, Bloomberg (October 16, 2023), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-10-16/israel-announces-another-safe-passage-for-gazans-to-move-south; Thousands of Gazans waving white flags head south along IDF evacuation route, Times of Israel (November 7, 2023), https://www.timesofisrael.com/thousands-of-gazans-waving-white-flags-head-south-along-idf-evacuation-route/; Israel’s humanitarian efforts, COGAT (Last visited April 8, 2024), https://govextra.gov.il/cogat/humanitarian-efforts/home/.

[14] See supra note 2; Between 350,000 to 400,000 people still in northern Gaza, says US special envoy, France 24 (November 4, 2023), https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20231104-%F0%9F%94%B4-live-un-chief-slams-israeli-strike-on-gaza-ambulance-convoy.

[15] Nidal Al-Mughrabi and Idrees Ali, US makes first Gaza aid drop as mediators seek truce deal, Reuters (March 3, 2024), https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israeli-airstrike-hits-gaza-tent-killing-11-gaza-health-ministry-2024-03-02/.

[16] Omar Abdel-Baqui and Margherita Stancati, Aid Trucks Trickle Into Northern Gaza as Israel Opens New Route, Wall Street Journal (March 13, 2024), https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/aid-trucks-trickle-into-northern-gaza-as-israel-opens-new-route-af0f5496; Wafaa Shurafa, The first ship to use a new sea route delivers aid to Gaza, Israeli military says, AP (March 15, 2024), https://apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-news-03-15-2024-d4e2f9ed525914233e4cf16c217f5248.

[17] Lazar Berman and Jacob Magid, After PM’s call with Biden, ministers okay steps to swiftly ramp up aid flow to Gaza, Times of Israel (April 5, 2024), https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-pms-call-with-biden-ministers-okay-steps-to-swiftly-ramp-up-aid-flow-to-gaza/; Israeli cabinet approves reopening of northern Gaza border crossing for first time since October 7, official says, CNN (April 5, 2024), https://edition.cnn.com/2024/04/04/middleeast/gaza-erez-crossing-israeli-cabinet-intl/index.html.

[18] @cogatonline, Twitter (March 10, 2024, 5:59 PM), https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1766856304067215608; @cogatonline, Twitter (March 7, 2024, 11:31 AM),https://twitter.com/cogatonline/status/1765671480724000911.

[19] David Propper, Elderly Palestinian takes Hamas to task in Al Jazeera interview for taking aid from civilians in Gaza, New York Post (December 7, 2023), https://nypost.com/2023/12/07/news/palestinian-criticizes-hamas-in-al-jazeera-interview-for-taking-aid/; Footage from Gaza shows Hamas members beating up residents trying to get food, Times of Israel (November 12, 2023), https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/footage-from-gaza-shows-hamas-members-beating-up-residents-trying-to-get-food/; @ofirgendelman, Twitter (December 9, 2023, 4:18 PM), https://twitter.com/ofirgendelman/status/1733491286118682969; Hamas members beat civilians, steal humanitarian aid received from int’l organizations: Israel Defense Forces, Economic Times (December 11, 2023), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/hamas-members-beat-civilians-steal-humanitarian-aid-received-from-intl-organisations-israel-defence-forces/articleshow/105870965.cms?from=mdr; Gazans to IDF: Hamas steals UNRWA food, kills civilians who ask for aid, Jerusalem Post (January 8, 2024), https://www.jpost.com/israel-hamas-war/article-781286; https://www.ynetnews.com/article/b1bhublvt.

[20] Hamas-linked website warns Palestinian against cooperating with Israel to secure aid convoys, Times of Israel (March 11, 2024), https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/hamas-linked-website-warns-palestinians-against-cooperating-with-israel-to-secure-aid-convoys/.

 

UN Watch