Brains Falling Out,  Israel/Palestine

The Hunger Game

By Harry Storm

Starvation has been used as a weapon of war for millennia, but never against one’s own people – until now.

Ancient Carthage, a commercial and trading powerhouse, recovered quickly after its defeat in the 2nd Punic War, despite the loss of all of its colonies. This frightened the Romans, still traumatized by Hannibal’s invasion of Italy during that war, so a pretext was found 50 years later to wage the 3rd Punic War and finish Carthage off for good. Scipio Aemilianus, adoptive grandson of the general who finally defeated Hannibal, laid siege to Carthage for 3 years before the city fell and was completely destroyed. Starvation was among the chief weapons Scipio used, possibly the earliest recorded use of starvation of a civilian population as a weapon of war, though likely not the first.

In more modern times, the “Lieber Code” allowed northern soldiers to starve armed and unarmed “hostile belligerents” during the American Civil War. Starvation was also weaponized against the native peoples of the Americas. Herd after herd of bison – a major food source for the tribes of the West, such as the Sioux – were purposely eliminated.

The siege of Leningrad resulted in the deaths by starvation of hundreds of thousands; the Nazis also concocted a “hunger plan” that might have caused millions of deaths from famine in Soviet-controlled territory had it been implemented.

Western powers had few qualms about using starvation as a weapon of war during and after the Second World War: In 1945  the US implemented “Operation Starvation” to hasten Japan’s surrender; 5 years later, the British gave the same name to an operation of their own against a communist insurgency in Malaya (Now Malaysia).

However, until the current war in Gaza, never before has a government let its own people starve as a weapon of war. There are regular reports – generally ignored by the media– that Hamas steals food aid for itself and sells the rest on the black market. Given (a) its strategy of weaponizing civilian deaths for propaganda purposes; (b) the widespread attention a potential famine in Gaza has received; and (c) that Hamas reserves the use of its vast underground tunnel system for itself and bars civilians from sheltering in it, it’s hardly a stretch to consider Hamas allowing its civilians to starve as just another arrow in the quiver of its propaganda war.

But such considerations are ignored by a media driven primarily by a social justice agenda, by governments trying to appease significant numbers of Muslims within their borders, and by international bodies routinely hostile to Israel, all of whom are placing the blame for food shortages squarely on the Jewish state.

Two of the most recent accusations against Israel come from international judicial bodies. In its May 24 decision ordering Israel to end its attacks on Rafah, the International Court of Justice referred back to its Order of March 28, which noted that “the conditions [on Israel] necessary to prevent famine have not been met and the latest evidence confirms that famine is imminent in the northern governorates and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.”

The ICJ Order also noted that “famine is setting in, with at least 31 people, including 27 children, having already died of malnutrition and dehydration according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).”

A few days earlier, Karim Khan, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, issued applications for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, accusing them of, among other things, planning “to use starvation as a method of war” and causing “catastrophic hunger – [for] the highest number of people ever recorded – anywhere, anytime.”

Both courts used evidence collected by UN bodies such as UNICEF and OCHA to arrive at their conclusions. These UN bodies, like so many others, have long been anti-Israel hotbeds.

Joining the pile-on were non-governmental organizations consistently hostile to Israel, such as Human Rights Watch, which contended, in an April 9 press release, that “children in Gaza have been dying from starvation-related complications since the Israeli government began using starvation as a weapon of war” and called for governments worldwide to impose sanctions.

Also as expected, media outlets have published story after story about Israel’s responsibility for famine in Gaza. To cite just a few:

A March 6 story on hunger in Gaza by the Canadian Broadcasting Network, like most Canadian media long captured by a “progressive” agenda, was headlined “Hungry children are dying in Gaza as Israel’s chokehold on aid drives territory toward starvation.”

A January 6 story in Time Magazine quoted Israeli Defence Minister Gallant on Oct. 9 ordering “a complete siege on the Gaza Strip,” and saying “there will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed” without considering that this might be an understandable emotional response only 48 hours after the gruesome slaughter of 1,200 Israelis. The Time report did note that Israel actually began allowing aid to re-enter on Oct. 21 – i.e. only 2 weeks after the Oct. 7 massacre – but immediately added that “some human rights groups and legal experts” have pointed to [Gallant’s and Israeli cabinet ministers’] statements as evidence that starvation is being used as a weapon of war in Gaza.

A March 8 article by the Associated Press, whose headline alone – “It’s not just Israeli bombs that have killed children in Gaza. Now some are dying of hunger too” – illustrates how hysteria has replaced even the pretense of objectivity. The claim of 20 Gazans dying from malnutrition and dehydration at two northern Gaza hospitals came from the “Gaza Health Ministry,” as did the claim that 30,800 Gazans had been killed (to that point). This 1,300-word article never mentions that the so-called “health ministry” is run by Hamas and presents claims by UNRWA and “UN officials” unquestioningly. Meanwhile, the Israeli position was summarized in one short sentence that was immediately contradicted by UNRWA.

These biased charges and reports mask and invert reality, according to COGAT, the Israeli organization charged with providing aid to Gaza civilians. It cites a study by food experts at Hebrew University that found that “contrary to claims that Israel has deliberately starved Gaza, Israel has gone to considerable lengths to facilitate food aid delivered to Gaza.”

Results from the study revealed that “Between January and April 2024, COGAT facilitated the entry of 14,916 trucks conveying 227,854 tons of food into Gaza. On average, 3,729 food trucks entered Gaza per month (124 per day), with a continuous mean increase of 431 trucks per month. Between January and April, food shipments’ weight (tons) grew by 53% …The crude mean energy availability based on the analysis of the nutritional content of the food supply was 3,211 kcal per capita per day, 97.6 gr protein per capita per day (12.2% of energy), 29.5 gr fat per capita per day (3.7% of energy) and 16.7 mg iron per capita per day.”

The 3,211 calorie supply significantly exceeds the widely accepted standard of 2,100 kcals per person, per day established by the Sphere humanitarian organization, for the minimum amount of food aid required in response to a crisis. Significantly, the researchers concluded that further study should be aimed at “food supply distribution and population access to humanitarian aid.”

Yet there has been little if any coverage of this detailed study except in Israeli and conservative media. Nor were its conclusions considered or even noted in the judgment by the ICJ or by the ICC prosecutor.

They were, however, supported by recent statements from American sources regarding food distribution from the American-built pier on the coast of central Gaza, which became operational in mid-May.

In the first few days, the Americans were able to deliver 569 metric tonnes of aid to the shore. But, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, as of Tuesday May 21, several trucks hauling food and other goods to warehouses [were] “intercepted” on the Gazan mainland, and not a single metric tonne of food had actually been delivered to aid warehouses. (The pier has since washed away in rough waters.)

The IDF has posted videos and photographs to support its claim that Hamas gunmen were commandeering aid from UNRWA, and earlier in May, Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, admitted on May 2 that Hamas was diverting aid.

This is the hard evidence that the ICC, ICJ, NGOs and most media outlets ignore or minimize, all the while pushing Hamas propaganda about Israel deliberately starving Gaza.

Although there’s no proof that Hamas is deliberately starving its citizens, there’s little doubt that Hamas has been stealing food for itself and leaving civilians to fend for themselves (i.e. letting them starve). And it’s entirely in keeping with Hamas’ propaganda efforts that Gaza civilians are seen to be at imminent risk for starvation or, better yet, dying of hunger — because of Israel’s “genocidal” war.

Hamas’ successes in the propaganda war it wages against Israel reveal the wilful gullibility of institutions – whether governments, media, NGOs or international bodies – that throw facts and objective truth out the window when Israel is involved. One could be forgiven for thinking that these institutions fall for blatant Hamas propaganda and discount or ignore Israeli claims entirely because – there’s no other way to put this – they want to.

Update: The June 2024 IPC report for the northern governorates of the Gaza Strip has produced some interesting conclusions which the Times of Israel summarises as 5 findings of which the first is :


The FRC highlights two glaring omissions in the FEWS NET’s analysis of food in Gaza: FEWS NET “excludes the contribution of commercial and/or privately contracted deliveries” as well as “the contribution of World Food Program deliveries (flour salt, and yeast) to bakeries in northern Gaza.”

Without counting these two sources of food at all, FEWS NET came to the conclusion that Gaza was only receiving 59-63% of its caloric needs in April. Based on the FRC’s review of all of the food sources, however, the FRC estimates that Gaza would have 109% of its caloric needs met according to its low estimates  – 157% at its high estimate.

Wow, that sure does not sound like a famine to me.

Going even further, the FRC gives FEWS NET the benefit of the doubt: maybe the commercial/privately contracted food deliveries and the bakery deliveries were “difficult to access, especially for the most vulnerable”? The FRC answers its own hypothetical question: “Unlikely.”