Israel guilty of mass starvation of Gaza, ground invasion of Rafah looms

March 25, 2024
child's face
Across the whole Gaza strip, 1.1 million Palestinians face catastrophic food shortages. Graphic: Green Left

As the Holy Month of Ramadan began on March 10, Palestinians in Gaza faced starvation and a looming Israeli ground assault on the southern border city of Rafah, where 1.4 million people have been forced to shelter.

Israel has temporarily put its ground invasion on hold to engage in diplomatic maneuvers to justify its onslaught, in the face of worldwide opposition. Meanwhile, Israel continues its campaign to starve the population, and prevent food aid — except a trickle — from being brought into Gaza.

Early in the war, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was imposing a “complete siege of Gaza” that meant “no electricity, no food, no water”.

We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,he said.

Catastrophic food shortages

As reported in the New York Times on March 19, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) global initiative, which was set up in 2004 by United Nations agencies and international relief groups, found that “famine is imminent” in Gaza and the enclave is on the verge of a “major acceleration of deaths and malnutrition”.

In northern Gaza and Gaza City, where the Israeli invasion began, 55% of people face “catastrophic” food shortages, 25% face a food shortage “emergency” and 20% are in “crisis”.

In the central Gazan cities of Deer al-Balah and Khan Younis, 30% are in the “catastrophic” category, 45% in an “emergency” and 20% in “crisis”, with 5% “stressed”.

For Rafah, the figures are 25% “catastrophic”, 40% “emergency”, 30% percent “crisis”, and 5% “stressed.”

Across the whole strip, 1.1 million Palestinians face “catastrophic” food shortages.

As reported by the NYT in December, the IPC warned “that famine could occur within six months in Gaza unless the fighting stopped immediately and more humanitarian supplies made it into the territory. ‘Since then, the conditions necessary to prevent famine have not been met,’ the report said.”

Israel also blocks access to other basic goods, including medical equipment, and continues it bombardment with US-made bombs, artillery shells and other weapons.


US President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders have said publicly they are opposed to a ground invasion of Rafah.

As the NYT reported, Biden asked Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to send a team of officials to Washington to hear US concerns and to discuss Rafah. However, a day later Netanyahu insisted there was no alternative but to send troops into Rafah to eliminate Hamas.

“[W]e are determined to complete the elimination of those battalions in Rafah, and there is no way to do this without a ground incursion,” Netanyahu told the media.

Netanyahu “acknowledged the dispute with the Biden administration” but “said that Israel was engaged ‘in a dual campaign’, one military and one diplomatic”, reported the NYT.

“The diplomatic fight gives us the time and the resources to reach the full results of the war,” he said.

US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told the NYT the comments indicate Washington and Tel Aviv “are squarely in a different place and have a different viewpoint”.

Despite its “different viewpoint”, the US won’t do anything about it, effectively signalling to Israel to go ahead with its Rafah invasion. If this occurs, the US will be complicit in the mass killing of Palestinians that will be its consequence.

Netanyahu attempted to justify the ground invasion, as well as Israel’s mass killing, maiming and starvation of Palestinian non-combatants, the destruction of their homes, hospitals and universities, on March 17, in an interview with CNN, when he insisted that “85% of Palestinians support Hamas”.

Israel's plan for ongoing military control, buffer zones

As reported in the Washington Post, Netanyahu released his “concrete postwar plan” for Israels indefinite military control of Gaza, on March 23.

“Among its key points: Israels military will stay in Gaza as long as it takes to demilitarize the enclave, eliminate Hamas, and keep it from regrouping.

“Israel will assume greater control of Gazas southern border, in cooperation with Egypt ‘as much as possible’, and will carve out border buffer zones to prevent smuggling and further attacks on its border with Gaza.

“The United Nations’ primary aid agency in Gaza and the West Bank [the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA] would be disbanded and replaced.

“The proposal rejects any permanent agreement with ‘the Palestinians’ that is not achieved through direct negotiations with Israel, as well as any ‘unilateral’ Palestinian state.

Israel has never agreed to a “two state” proposal. When it was discussed decades ago, Israel and the US said that a “Palestinian state” would have no armed forces, Israel would control its borders, and it could have no independent foreign policy. That is not a state.

Today — and this has been true for decades — there are no political forces in Israel that propose even that “non-state” state.

Netanyahu has since also said that Israel would “de-radicalise” the Palestinian population through its occupation, which could only be achieved through mass political repression.

These objectives cannot be furthered without a continuation of the war against the Palestinian population of Gaza, with the aim of utterly crushing them. But resistance to the Israelis will continue to exist, and for every Hamas fighter killed new ones will come forward, even possibly under a new name.

Without UNRWA there will be no distribution of aid. Netanyahu doesn’t even propose how Israel will replace it. Israel’s record so far indicates that it has no intention of feeding the people, or rebuilding medical infrastructure, etc.

Israel’s war aims were made public early on, namely, to drive the Gazan people into Egypt’s Sinai desert. However, the Egyptian government would not allow it. The fall-back position is continued Israeli occupation, as Netanyahu now openly states.

The Israelis will likely increase the misery of the people in the hope that they will leave on their own.

Build the anti-war movement

Some American leaders hope that Netanyahu will be replaced. But even if that happens, the Israeli leadership as a whole is behind its war policy. And they are not going to replace Netanyahu any time soon, as the war continues.

Netanyahu and the rest of the leadership know that no matter what they do, the US will continue to back them in the war, even if some Democrats, for electoral reasons, make criticisms without any teeth.

They also know that the leaderships of the Arab governments will continue to take no action in defense of the Palestinians, even if the Arab people taking to the streets are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian in this war. None of them want Palestinian radicalism to spill over into their countries.

The only road forward is to build a global anti-war movement so powerful that it forces the US to stop Israel’s war and to make Israel back off — which it has the ability to do.

Israel’s longer aim is the Zionist goal of a Jewish supremacist state that is rid of all Palestinians. The Israeli state cannot be reformed. The long term solution is a democratic, secular Palestine open to all religions and peoples within its borders.

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