A man carries the body of a Palestinian child wrapped in a white sheet.

A man carries the body of 13-year-old Palestinian boy Abdulqader Al-Serhi, who died of malnutrition resulting from the Israeli siege of Gaza, in Deir al-Balah on June 1, 2024.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Group Documents Israel's Starvation of 2 Palestinian Children in Past Week

"Al Mezan reiterates its urgent call for an immediate cease-fire, which must be coupled with the immediate lifting of the siege and closure imposed on Gaza."

Warning: This article includes graphic descriptions and images of starvation.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said Monday that two more children died of malnutrition last week at a hospital in the embattled Gaza Strip, where Israel stands accused in a World Court genocide case of blocking food and other lifesaving aid from reaching starving Palestinians.

Al Mezan said 5-month-old Fayez Attaya died on May 30 and 13-year-old Abdulqader Al-Serhi died on June 1 at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza. Both children died from malnutrition and lack of adequate healthcare due to the 241-day Israeli bombardment, invasion, and siege of Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israel.

The Gaza-based rights group said that the two children "died as a result of a multifaceted pattern of genocidal acts perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian population of Gaza."

"These acts include the total siege imposed on Gaza since October 9, 2023, the utilization of starvation as a genocidal weapon of war, the deliberate targeting and destruction of Gaza's healthcare system, and the recurrent forced displacement of millions of Palestinians," Al Mezan added.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 30 people—mostly children—have died from malnutrition and dehydration during the war. Almost all of the victims are from northern Gaza, where United Nations World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain said last month that "full-blown famine" had taken hold and was spreading south.

"The escalating risks of starvation pose a grave and imminent threat to the lives of our population, particularly children, patients, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities," Al Mezan researcher Basem Abu Jray said in a statement Monday.

"Living conditions have plummeted to their lowest ebb, exacerbated by the destruction of vital life and economic sectors, which has resulted in a stark increase in poverty and unemployment," he added. "Moreover, the closure of the Rafah border crossing and the impediment of humanitarian aid and fuel entry have profoundly impacted the civilian population."

Attaya was born on December 6 and spent his short life in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza before the Israeli invasion forcibly displaced his family, who moved to the Al-Mawasi area in western Khan Younis. He was healthy at birth, weighing 7.7 pounds. However he soon developed breathing difficulties, which his father says were exacerbated "by my inability to provide adequate food for my wife to breastfeed him properly." Attaya weighed just 3.3 pounds when he died.

Al-Serhi suffered from poor health since he was born in 2010. He was being regularly monitored at Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital in Gaza City until Israel's invasion forced its closure in November. The child's condition had been stable before the war but he lost access to lifesaving treatment and nutritious food.

According to his father:

I only had two bottles of the necessary medication for Abdulqader, but as time passed, the prescribed treatment ran out. I tried to buy it but couldn't find it anywhere. I also tried to look for it in Egypt, but the closure of the Rafah crossing prevented that. All of this coincided with shortages in food, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Abdulqader's health deteriorated significantly, especially given the tent conditions and the high temperatures, which were unsuitable for his health.

Palestinian and international agencies say that since October over 15,000 Palestinian minors have died in Gaza, which the United Nations Children's Fund calls the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Overall, Israel's assault on Gaza has left more than 130,000 Palestinians dead, maimed, or missing and around 2 million of Gaza's 2.3 million people forcibly displaced.

"Al Mezan reiterates its urgent call for an immediate cease-fire, which must be coupled with the immediate lifting of the siege and closure imposed on Gaza," the group said.

"Famine must be formally declared across the entirety of Gaza," Al Mezan continued. "Should Israel persist in controlling and keeping the Rafah crossing and the other crossings closed, and if patients in need of urgent medical care are not allowed to seek treatment outside Gaza, the deaths of Fayez and Abdulqader will serve as a grim prelude to many more casualties."

"Gaza's genocidal humanitarian catastrophe resulting from deliberately imposed Israeli policies will inevitably worsen, leading to additional preventable deaths," the group added. "Urgent and resolute action is imperative."

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