Amid mass killing of Gaza civilians, Israel wages a war of starvation and disease
Geneva – A statement released by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor today condemned Israeli’s ongoing war of starvation, thirst, and disease against the Gaza Strip, occurring along with the mass killings and widespread destruction of residential neighbourhoods on the heads of residents for the twentieth day in a row.
“We are following with great seriousness the systematic Israeli bombing that aims to exacerbate the food supply crisis that has reached its peak in recent days,” the Geneva-based human rights organisation said in its statement, issued today.
The Euro-Med team has documented Israel’s deliberate bombing of bakeries in the Gaza Strip, destroying 10 of them so far. The most recent was the Al-Maghazi bakery, which was attacked on Wednesday night, just a few hours after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) had provided it with much-needed flour. The attack resulted in the bakery’s complete destruction and the killing of 10 people who were waiting in long queues to buy bread.
The rights organisation pointed out that some of the targeted bakeries had received flour from UNRWA in an attempt to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the south areas of Gaza Valley, which Israel designated as a “safe zone” despite it being targeted around the clock by hundreds of air attacks.
Israel has deliberately targeted markets and shopping centres during rush hour, when these areas are typically populated by residents looking to obtain basic food supplies, said Euro-Med Monitor. The rights organisation suggested that Israel has made a specific decision to prevent civilians from obtaining food, citing an Israeli bombing that targeted a UNRWA food supply warehouse in the northern part of the Gaza Strip during the initial days of the ongoing massive military assault on the Strip.
Euro-Med Monitor added that its field teams have evidence of the intentional Israeli targeting of alternative water extensions that local municipal authorities were working on to supply water to residential areas and shelter centres, as occurred recently in the city of Khan Yunis. This confirms the Israeli military and political decision to deny civilians access to water, the organisation said.
This information comes at a time when Gaza is facing a severe shortage of essential supplies like food, water, and medicine. Approximately 1.5 out of 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes, and the majority of them are living in shelters, schoolyards, and hospitals, without access to their basic human needs.
The people of Gaza are also threatened by a widespread wave of epidemics in light of overcrowding in shelter centres, lack of drinking water, and poor personal hygiene due to the crisis. A 52-year-old displaced woman living in a Gaza shelter reported experiencing excruciating nausea and stomach pain two days ago. It was later disclosed that she was not the only case; many of the area’ displaced people experienced the same symptoms after consuming spoiled food due to the ongoing power outage.
Euro-Med Monitor field teams reported in recent days thousands of cases of epidemic diseases, mostly in children, such as food poisoning, skin infections, bronchial infections, and diarrheal illnesses, in addition to dozens of cases of chicken pox.
A displaced man identifying himself as Abu Hamid Odeh informed the Euro-Med team that his five children suffered from skin diseases and scabies as a result of the lack of clean water and the sanitation crisis. He also mentioned the care crisis resulting from the UNRWA's evacuation from the area.
The risks associated with waste buildup in residential neighborhoods are increasing due to the extreme challenges faced by municipal crews, either in terms of collecting waste—given Israeli air raids and the fuel crisis—or difficulties in accessing the main landfills on the Gaza Strip’s border. This situation threatens a serious health and environmental disaster, said Euro-Med Monitor.
Only half of the 16,000 tons of waste accumulated in Gaza City alone has been collected, according to Euro-Med Monitor, and is currently being gathered in two makeshift facilities in the heart of the city.
The group pointed to TV statements made by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on 9 October: “We are putting a complete siege on Gaza…No electricity, no food, no water, no gas—it’s all closed,” said Gallant, claiming that Israel is fighting “human animals”.
Gallant also brought up an earlier announcement made on 7 October by Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water which stated that Israel will cease providing electricity to the Gaza Strip as an extra measure of collective punishment.
Such statements express an official Israeli position on implementing a war of starvation, thirst, disease, and deprivation of the necessities of life for the over 2.3 million people living in the Gaza Strip, said Euro-Med Monitor, setting a horrific new precedent. For the first time in modern history and amid total American and European support, the organisation said, the world is witnessing widespread international complicity in a highly-publicised humanitarian disaster unfolding before its eyes.
Euro-Med Monitor stressed that everything that is happening in Gaza represents a true embodiment of genocide, as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which states: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a. Killing members of the group; b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s field team verified that Israel has carried out these heinous crimes on a grand scale, with formal announcements from the highest military and political level—announcements unprecedented in the modern history of armed conflicts. The organisation stressed that Israel’s escalation of its retaliatory policies, genocidal approach, and gross violations of international humanitarian law require urgent intervention from the international community and the United Nations, to ensure the immediate cessation of such violations, as well as accountability.
Accountability, noted Euro-Med Monitor, would require putting an end to the double-standard policy adopted by many countries at the expense of human rights.