Israel Uses Starvation of Civilians as a Weapon of War in Gaza – HRW

Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which is a war crime. (Photo: Yosef Abo Said, via Eye on Palestine)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israel is using starvation as a “weapon of war” in Gaza by deliberately denying access to food and water to Palestinian civilians, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

“The  Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which is a war crime,” the human rights organization said in a statement.

“Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to their survival,” the statement added.

HRW pointed out that this is a deliberate policy, as evidenced by statements made by high-ranking Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Energy Minister Israel Katz on their intention to “deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water and fuel”.

“For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” said Omar Shakir, HRW’s Israel and Palestine director.

“World leaders should be speaking out against this abhorrent war crime, which has devastating effects on Gaza’s population.”

The HRW said that “international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.”

Moreover, the statement noted that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that intentionally starving civilians by “depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies” is a war crime.

“Criminal intent does not require the attacker’s admission but can also be inferred from the totality of the circumstances of the military campaign.”

The New York-based organization added that “Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza, as well as its more than 16-year closure, amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population, a war crime”.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 18,800 Palestinians have been killed and more than 51,000 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The HRW called on Tel Aviv to immediately cease using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.

It also called on the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and other countries to “suspend military assistance and arms sales to Israel as long as its forces continue to commit widespread and serious abuses amounting to war crimes against civilians with impunity.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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