Geneva - Over 71% of participants in a study conducted in the Gaza Strip by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that they suffer from extreme hunger, corroborating accusations that Israel uses starvation to punish Palestinian civilians.

Euro-Med Monitor conducted an analytical study that included a sample of 1,200 people in the Gaza Strip in order to ascertain the impact of the humanitarian crisis that Gazans are experiencing in the midst of Israel’s ongoing Israeli genocidal war, which began on 7 October.

According to the study’s findings, 98% of respondents said they eat  insufficient amounts of food, while 64% of the participants admitted to eating grass, fruits, immature food, and expired materials to satiate their hunger.

The study found that the rate of access to water in the Gaza Strip, including drinking, bathing, and cleaning water, is 1.5 litres per person per day. This is 15 liters less than the minimum amount of water required for survival at the level required by international standards, noted Euro-Med Monitor.

Additionally, the study examined the effects of malnutrition and a lack of access to clean drinking water. Sixty-six per cent of the study sample reported having experienced diarrhea, skin rashes, or intestinal diseases in the past month.

Euro-Med Monitor transcribed testimonies from doctors revealing an increase in the rate of deaths from fainting and heart attacks in the areas of Gaza City and the Strip’s northern sections, which are witnessing a more severe deterioration in the humanitarian crisis and hunger rates.

Since the start of its genocide in Gaza, Israel has imposed a comprehensive blockade on the Strip and prevented supplies of food, water, fuel, and other humanitarian necessities from reaching the more than 2.3 million residents of the Strip. Israel’s use of starvation as a weapon has taken intensified since 7 October, and has included cutting off all food supplies to Gazans as well as bombing and destroying the Strip’s bakeries, factories, food stores, and water stations and tanks.

Israel has also targeted solar energy systems and electrical generators that power restaurants, businesses, and government agencies. Additional Israeli attacks have destroyed the agricultural area east of Gaza; flour stores; fishing boats; and supply centres for relief organisations, especially the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the largest source of humanitarian aid in the Strip.

Under international pressure, Israel opened the Rafah land crossing; however, the crossing is open to an average of just 100 trucks per day, for humanitarian supplies coming from Egypt. This is a far cry from the average load of 500 trucks that entered the Strip prior to 7 October to meet humanitarian needs. It is important to note that roughly half of the Gaza Strip’s population is children under the age of 18.

Although a limited amount of food aid has been allowed to enter the enclave, no commercial food imports have been delivered, leaving the Gaza Strip’s residents in dire need of food, particularly in light of the Israeli collective punishment policy.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed that international humanitarian law strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a weapon. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated under international humanitarian law to provide basic needs and protection to the Gazan people.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that intentionally starving civilians by “depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies” is a war crime, said the Geneva-based rights group. Euro-Med Monitor called for decisive international action to impose a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and prevent further deterioration of the situation by providing fair and unrestricted access to basic and relief materials to the entire Strip, and allowing the entry of food, water, medical, and fuel supplies in order to meet the needs of the population.