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Gaza: Time running out with reports emerging of children dying due to a lack of food

Time is running out for children in Gaza as reports emerge that they are starting to die because of malnutrition [i] while Israel continues to impose restrictions preventing the safe delivery of aid, Save the Children said today.

With the collapse in communication as well as aid – particularly in northern areas of Gaza where civilians are at highest risk of starvation – the stories reported are likely the tip of the iceberg.

Ahead of the UN Security Council convening a session on food insecurity in Gaza today, Save the Children reiterated calls for an immediate, definitive ceasefire and the ramping up of safe, unfettered aid access, with the lives of 1.1 million more children hanging by a thread. Already, more than 12,500 children have been killed in nearly five months of war, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

Since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel nearly five weeks ago to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid” as part of its provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza from the risk of genocide, the number of aid trucks entering the Strip has dropped by more than a third, according to UN data.

Frequent border closures, ongoing Israeli air strikes, continued fighting, insecurity, and demonstrators blocking aid trucks from entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing are impeding aid efforts, including food delivery. In some cases, trucks with food supplies are waiting at the border so long that vegetables are rotten once they arrive in Gaza.

At least two aid workers were killed in the last week alone, bringing the total number of aid workers killed under Israeli bombardment to over 172 , according to data from the UN and Association of International Development Agencies.

Meanwhile, needs are soaring, with one in six children in northern Gaza acutely malnourished, and the UN r eporting that some food stocks may run out in the coming two days.

Over the past week, reports have emerged of families who survived Israel’s bombardment in northern Gaza saying they were unable to find anything to eat and so fled to Rafah in southern Gaza. This comes as Israeli officials declare that an expanded military incursion in Rafah – where more than 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering – is imminent.

Any denial of humanitarian assistance is a Grave Violation against children, according to the UN Security Council’s 1999 Resolution on Children in Armed Conflict. It is also tantamount to collective punishment and illegal under international humanitarian law. Any use of starvation as a method of warfare is strictly prohibited and codified as a war crime under international law.

Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, said:

” What we are witnessing in Gaza is a mass killing of children in slow motion because there is no food left and nothing getting to them. They are dying because the world has failed to protect them, and now families are fleeing to Israel’s next military target to avoid starvation, caught in a death trap.

” The ICJ in its provisional measures order ruled that some of Israel’s actions constitute a “plausible claim of genocidal acts”. The international community continues to be bound by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and the ICJ ruling, to ensure Palestinians are protected.

” Whenever we learn lessons from the past, we resolve to never again let “atrocity crimes” unfold. The test is now right in front of us. Children are being starved while trucks of food are denied access and continued fighting prevent delivery of the little aid coming into Gaza. We are failing that test. Unless action is taken by the international community, to uphold their responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and prevent the most serious crimes of international concern – including the use of starvation as a method of warfare – history will and should judge us all.”

Save the Children is calling for an immediate, definitive ceasefire to save and protect the lives of children in Gaza, and for the parties to the conflict to adhere to International Humanitarian Law, uphold the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling and refrain from actions which undermine the provisional measures indicated by the ICJ.

Save the Children is calling for safe unfettered humanitarian aid access for a massive scale-up in humanitarian aid supplies and the personnel needed to deliver it, particularly in northern Gaza. Unfettered access means sufficient goods, including commercial, aid, humanitarian personnel, and fuel can safely reach children and families across Gaza, as well as the opening of all access points.

Save the Children is also calling for all donor governments and the rest of the international community to resume and scale up funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as quickly as possible.

Save the Children has been providing essential services and support to Palestinian children impacted by the ongoing conflict since 1953. Save the Children’s team in the occupied Palestinian territory has been working around the clock, prepositioning vital supplies to support people in need, and working to find ways to get assistance into Gaza.

 

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