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Gaza facing ‘immediate possibility of starvation,’ UN warns

Peace campaigners slam Israeli authorities and world leaders as slaughter grinds on

PEACE campaigners slammed Israeli authorities and world leaders today after the United Nations warned Gaza faced the “immediate possibility of starvation.” 

Even before the fast approaching winter Palestinians are already struggling to survive in desperate conditions created by a lack of fuel, which means aid agencies are unable to transport urgently needed food and medical supplies to the besieged people of the territory.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Mideast regional spokeswoman Abeer Etefa said that, since the beginning of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas’s October 7 uprising, Gaza has received only around 10 per cent of its required food supplies each day. Dehydration and malnutrition are growing as a result, with nearly all residents in need of food.

Speaking from Cairo, Egypt, Ms Etefa said: “Food production has come to an almost complete halt, markets have collapsed, fishermen cannot access the sea, farmers cannot reach their farms.

WFP executive director Cindy McCain said: “With winter rapidly approaching, shelters unsafe and overcrowded and a lack of clean water, civilians face the immediate possibility of starvation.” 

Communications systems such as telephones and the internet have also broken down due to a lack of fuel.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said no aid deliveries would be able to enter from Egypt on Friday because of  difficulties co-ordinating them without phones or internet.

“We have seen fuel and food and water and humanitarian assistance being used as a weapon of war,” said agency spokesperson Juliette Touma. 

She added it was “outrageous that humanitarian agencies are reduced to begging for fuel.”

Fuel is needed for electricity generators to run everything from communication systems to water and sewage pumps.

Peace campaigners have slammed politicians for failing to secure a ceasefire in Gaza.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson asked “how is it possible that the British government and the Labour leadership are still refusing to back a ceasefire? What kind of people stand and watch, doing nothing, when a genocide is taking place?

“These people are not fit to represent the British people.”

Ms Hudson added: “We will never again vote for politicians who do not support a ceasefire.”

Fiona Edwards of No Cold War Britain told the Morning Star: “Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and total siege of Gaza is by design an attempt to terrorise the Palestinian people.

“Starvation is being used as a weapon to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip.”

Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow South West Chris Stephens said: “World leaders must heed the warnings of the United Nations and call for an immediate ceasefire.”

He added: “The bloodshed must end, and diplomacy must begin."

Neil Sammonds, senior campaigner on Palestine at War on Want, said: “Starving 2.2m people is colossal cruelty and a war crime. Lamentably, our government and Labour are hand-in-bloody-hand with the criminals.”

Zita Holbourne of Barac (UK) said: “Urgent action must be taken by the UN to ensure water and food reaches everyone who needs it now.”

The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the Israeli attack against the al-Shifa hospital, widely acknowledged as a war crime, has brought even more urgency to the worldwide campaign for a ceasefire.

Israeli authorities said their troops had been searching the territory’s biggest hospital for traces of a Hamas command centre the military alleges was located under the building.

But the Israelis have failed to provide any evidence of any such command centre at the hospital, which Hamas and staff deny ever existed.

United States President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken have continued to express their support for a continued Israeli offensive, despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

But peace campaigners in the US including the Answer Coalition, the International Peoples’ Assembly and The People’s Forum were set to mount a series of actions today aimed at “disrupting business as usual at corporations that profit from genocide,” according to People’s Forum education director Layan Fuleihan.

She added: “Whether it’s weapons manufacturers, big banks, tech companies or any other entity that grows rich off Palestinian suffering and death, the people will shut down genocide profiteers.”

Dozens of peace actions are also being planned on Saturday and Sunday in towns and cities across Britain.

On Saturday peace campaigners are set to hold a rally at the office of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who angered many activists by ordering Labour MPs to abstain on a vote in Westminster this week calling for a ceasefire.

Some 56 Labour MPs defied his orders, including 10 frontbenchers, causing the biggest parliamentary rebellion of his leadership.

The war, now in its sixth week, has left more than 1,200 dead on the Israeli side, with 240 people taken as prisoners of war by Hamas.

Around 12,000 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble. 

Israel’s military has recently indicated it could expand operations in the south, where most of Gaza’s population has been ordered to take refuge.

Around 1.5 million people, driven from their homes, have packed into UN shelters or houses.

The Israeli military has called on people to move to a “safe zone” in Mawasi, a town on the Mediterranean coast, a few square miles in size, where humanitarian aid could be delivered.

But the heads of 18 UN agencies and international charities on Thursday rejected the proposed safe zone, instead calling for a ceasefire and unimpeded entry of humanitarian aid and fuel.


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