Hungry Palestinian children holding pots receive food aid in Gaza

Starving Palestinians queue for hours to receive food distributed by charitable organizations in Deir Balah, Gaza on March 1, 2024.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'No More Money' for Israel, Says Sanders as Biden Official Privately Warns of Imminent Famine Declaration

"The U.S. cannot partner with a country that is starving children," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to the news Wednesday that a top Biden administration official warned Israel of an imminent famine declaration in Gaza with one demand.

"No more money for Netanyahu," said the Vermont Independent senator, referring to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Axiosreported Wednesday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned Israeli officials in a virtual meeting earlier this week that the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) could in the coming weeks declare a famine in Gaza, which would be only the third such declaration worldwide in the 21st century.

Famines were declared in South Sudan in 2017 and in Somalia in 2011—starvation crises that killed tens of thousands of people.

The IPC identified two of Gaza's five governorates as experiencing famine "with reasonable evidence" last month, but an official declaration for the enclave would represent a significant turning point in Israel's bombardment and blocking of aid in Gaza, Sullivan told the Israeli officials.

"Sullivan said it would be bad for Israel and for the U.S.," a source with direct knowledge of the meeting told Axios.

The national security adviser reportedly warned Israel that it would bear responsibility if a famine is declared—but Sanders noted that as the top international funder of Israel's military, the Biden administration would also be to blame.

"The U.S. cannot partner with a country that is starving children," said the senator.

As Oxfam reported Wednesday, people in northern Gaza, where about 300,000 Palestinians are believed to be trapped, are now subsisting on 245 calories per day—less than a can of beans and about 12% of the recommended daily intake to prevent malnutrition.

For Gaza's population of 2.2 million people, Oxfam found that the food deliveries allowed into Gaza since October have allowed Palestinians there to consume an average of just 41% of the daily calories needed per person.

"Israel is making deliberate choices to starve civilians. Imagine what it is like, not only to be trying to survive on 245 calories day in, day out, but also having to watch your children or elderly relatives do the same. All whilst displaced, with little to no access to clean water or a toilet, knowing most medical support has gone and under the constant threat of drones and bomb," said Amitabh Behar, international executive director of Oxfam. "All countries need to immediately stop supplying arms to Israel and do all they can to secure an immediate and permanent cease-fire; only then can we stop this horrifying carnage for the 2.2 million people who have endured six months of suffering."

Israel has denied Gaza is facing starvation and an imminent famine, even as it has blocked food aid and fired on crowds of Palestinians waiting to receive relief deliveries.

On Wednesday, as international outrage grew over Israel's killing of seven aid workers with U.S.-based nonprofit World Central Kitchen as they were delivering food in Gaza, the New York Times reported that the U.S. State Department is currently pushing Congress to approve the sale of as many as 50 F-15 fighter jets to Israel, among other military support. The Biden administration has approved weapons transfers without congressional approval since October, directly aiding Israel in attacks that have killed at least 33,037 people.

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