Palestinian Children: Most vulnerable victims of Gaza's war

A Palestinian child who took refuge in Rafah city due to Israeli attacks is trying to feed himself with distributed food by charitable organizations as Palestinians struggle to obtain many vital needs, including basic food supplies in Rafah, Gaza on February 19, 2024.

(Photo by Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Israel's Forced Starvation Leads Desperate Gazans to Eat Horse Meat, Animal Feed

"All roads lead to death," said one mother who must tell her son there is no bread. "If not killed by the Israeli bombardment, we will starve to death."

Efforts to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid suffered another major setback in Gaza on Saturday after officials with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said that deliveries to areas in the north have been suspended due to impossible conditions.

While stressing that she did not "want to make it sound like we are blaming people or describing these things as criminal acts," UNRWA's director of external relations Tamara Alrifai, explained that the "desperate behavior of hungry and exhausted people is preventing the safe and regular passage of our trucks" in northern areas.

Israel has prevented large-scale humanitarian deliveries into Gaza for months amid its relentless military onslaught despite increasingly desperate warnings from relief agencies about widespread hunger. Alrifai said UNRWA is now "stuck in a vicious cycle, where the security of our convoys are at risk, meaning we can no longer send aid, which contributes to hunger and despair."

A "shocking" poll released this week revealed that more than two-thirds of Israelis oppose aid shipments being allowed into Gaza and demonstrators at the Kerem Shalom border crossing have continued their efforts to block truck convoys from making their deliveries.

Starvation as a 'weapon of war': Aid agencies warn they are at breaking

According to Washington Postreporting on Saturday, the "volume of aid delivered to Gaza has collapsed in recent weeks as Israeli airstrikes have targeted police officers who guard the convoys, UN officials say, exposing them to looting by criminal gangs and desperate civilians."

In a joint statement earlier this week, UN officials and outside relief agencies warned that the people of Gaza remain "in extreme peril while the world watches" from the sidelines.

"Diseases are rampant. Famine is looming. Water is at a trickle. Basic infrastructure has been decimated. Food production has come to a halt. Hospitals have turned into battlefields. One million children face daily traumas," said the statement which called for an immediate cease-fire, the release of hostages held by Hamas, and the backing of conditions that would again make humanitarian assistance possible.

Reflecting on the poll which showed a large majority of Israelis who actively oppose helping Palestinians avoid starvation, Mondoweiss columnist Jonathan Ofir said "one really has to pause here" and think about what is happening:

We are in a situation where Palestinians in Gaza are starving, people are consuming animal feed in their desperation. The week the UN’s World Food Programme reported people in Gaza are “already dying from hunger-related causes,” and a UNICEF nutrition screening in north Gaza found that 1 in 6 children under two years old are acutely malnourished. Israelis are not completely ignorant of this. They are supporting genocide by an overwhelming majority.

It is now mainstream within Israeli society to discuss from which age it is acceptable for children to be starved. A recent discussion on the mainstream public broadcaster news program reached a consensus between a former Mossad official and the veteran host that children over the age of 4 were legitimate to starve.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza continue to speak with reporters and describe the extreme hunger and growing famine in the north.

Abu Gibril, who spoke to Agence France-Presse, explained that he was so desperate for food at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza that he slaughtered a pair of horses to feed his family.

"We had no other choice but to slaughter the horses to feed the children. Hunger is killing us," Gibril told AFP.

"My son wakes up in the morning and asks for a loaf of bread," said one mother interviewed by Al-Jazeera. "I answer him that there is none. We have nothing—nothing at all. All roads lead to death. If not killed by the Israeli bombardment, we will starve to death."

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