Killing the Future


The Famine Memorial, Dublin (Rowan Gillespie)

Starvation & Disease in Gaza

GPM # 67

Israel’s assault on Gaza – plausibly genocidal, according to the International Court of Justice – is now into its tenth month. Almost 40,000 Palestinians have been killed by American bombs and missiles, half of them women and children. Unknown numbers lie dead and rotting beneath the rubble.

Ninety thousand have been injured.

Apartment blocks, schools, universities, hospitals, places of worship, cultural institutions and most of Gaza’s sewage treatment infrastructure are now in ruins.

The ultimate death toll in Israel’s war of vengeance following the events of October 7 will likely be much higher.

According to a report in the British medical journal The Lancet, in recent conflicts around the world, communicable and non-communicable disease, reproductive dysfunction, drinking water scarcity, hunger and disruption of health-care infrastructure killed between three and fifteen times more people than bombs or missiles.

“Applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death to the 37,396 deaths reported, it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza,” the authors wrote.

The physical health and psychosocial impacts of hunger, extreme trauma and ceaseless insecurity on pregnant women and young children (some of them epigenetic), promise to linger for generations.


Late last month, the UN-affiliated Famine Review Committee announced its latest appalling figures on the impacts of Israel’s forced starvation policy in Gaza.

In north Gaza, 45% of households are in an ‘emergency’ food security situation, a number projected to rise to 50% by the end of the summer. Twenty percent face catastrophe.

Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis, in central Gaza, and southern Rafah, fare slightly better.

Backing off projections issued in late March, the Review Committee said that famine, as formally defined, has yet to emerge – but it may well in the months to come.

The Israeli government and its lobbyists quickly jumped on this, arguing that the situation in Gaza is better than everyone says.

Tell that to the International Criminal Court.

In late May, Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan announced he’ll be seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders.

Topping the crimes the British barrister says Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for: starvation as a method of warfare.

A panel of ICC judges are expected to rule on Khan’s application later this summer.

Three weeks from today (July 26), British lawyers are scheduled to submit a brief to the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber, urging it to reject Khan’s application. The tightest of Israel’s tight friends (indeed, the intellectual authors of the Zionist state’s creation, and parallel dispossession of Palestine’s indigenous people), the UK will argue that Netanyahu, Gallant and other Israeli leaders are immune from prosecution under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

[Keir Starmer’s newly elected Labour government is reportedly poised to drop the intervention].

In search of wisdom about hunger and starvation as weapons of war, the GPM reached out to Alex de Waal.

De Waal is the Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation, and an authority on human rights, governance, peace-building and global response to food crises. His books include The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa, and Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine, both published by Polity Press. Alex de Waal teaches a course on Conflict in Africa at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, in Boston.

Listen to our conversation with Alex de Waal in today’s podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.

Listen to our complete conversation here:


Forcible starvation and infectious disease are famous dance partners. From colonial America’s genocidal western expansion to Darfur to Democratic Kampuchea, engineered starvation and infection have gone hand in hand.

Now Gaza: reduced to rubble; a million and a half of its people displaced, half of them children; no safe place to rest their heads and eat a healthy meal; packed into crowded tent camps, on the floors of UN refugee centers (a favourite target for Israeli airstrikes), or on the street.

No better conditions for respiratory infection, diarrhea and hepatitis to spread, communicated by rats and mosquitoes, now breeding in open pools of sewage water.

To learn more about the gathering infectious disease crisis in little Gaza – nine months into Israel’s genocidal war – the GPM spoke with the global spokesperson for the World Health Organization. Margaret Harris is a physician, an epidemiologist and a former journalist.

Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.

Listen to our complete conversation here: