Friday, June 21, 2024

Thousands of Palestinian children ‘at risk of death from starvation’: Report

More than 3,500 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip are at risk of death due to the "Israeli policy of starvation", the government media office in the besieged enclave has reported.

The children, who are under five years of age, suffer from acute malnutrition and are exposed to infectious diseases, the office said in a statement on Monday.

It added that the Israeli blockade on aid has led to a shortages of food, milk, nutritional supplements and vaccinations.

Meanwhile, Save the Children’s Alexandra Saieh stated aid organisations fear the situation in Gaza may worsen.

“Gaza is witnessing the worst of the worst levels of malnutrition, especially child malnutrition, and it’s entirely man-made,” Saieh told Al Jazeera.

“Children in Gaza are being starved, they are being deprived of clean water and they are being deprived of adequate medical assistance. And this is all being fuelled by the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the ongoing hostility. A medical point in Tal as-Sultan [Rafah], which was addressing malnutrition, had to close this past week due to [Israeli] attacks in the area.”

Of the 36,000 Palestinians killed by Israel since October 7, 15,000 are children.

Saieh added there might be “an acceleration of deaths due to malnutrition, starvation, disease and dehydration, possibly even higher than what we are already seeing, which is just the tip of the iceberg”.

“We actually fear that the situation is much worse. Back in March, the UN warned of a famine, and we have not as humanitarian organisations been given the access to stave off that famine.”

Meantime, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that far too little aid is reaching Palestinians in Gaza to the extent that children are now starving, urging Israel to respect international law regarding the safe passage of lifesaving relief in the war-battered territory.

“I would say they are certainly not getting the amount that they desperately need to prevent a famine, to prevent all kinds of horrors that we see. It’s very, very little that is going around at the moment,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke stated.

He reiterated that the Israeli authorities are obligated under international humanitarian law to facilitate the delivery of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Such a duty “does not stop at the border. It does not stop when you drop off just a few meters across the border and then drive away and then leave it to humanitarians to drive through active combat zones – which they cannot do – to pick it up. So, to answer your question, no, the aid that is getting in, is not getting to the people”, the OCHA spokesperson said when responding to questions about aid access obstacles.

Laerke also noted that land crossings for aid convoys into Gaza remain “the only way to get (aid) in at scale and at speed…We need more of these land crossings and we need them open and we need them safe for use to pick up the aid when it’s dropped off.”

The remarks come as a 13-year-old Palestinian has lost his life due to starvation in the central Gaza Strip following the Israeli closure of the Rafah border crossing to humanitarian aid.

Israel waged the atrocious onslaught against the Gaza Strip, targeting hospitals, residences, and houses of worship after Palestinian resistance movements launched a surprise attack, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, against the usurping regime on October 7.

Nearly 36,500 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children, and another 82,600 individuals have sustained injuries.

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