According to the UN special rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri:

Israel is intentionally starving Palestinians and should be held accountable for war crimes – and genocide, according to the UN’s leading expert on the right to food.

"There is no reason to intentionally block the passage of humanitarian aid or intentionally obliterate small-scale fishing vessels, greenhouses and orchards in Gaza – other than to deny people access to food," Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, told the Guardian.

Has the state of Israel given any justification for any actions it has taken that affect Palestinians' access to food in Gaza? What rationale has the state of Israel given?

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    Re Vote to Close. While I doubt it can be answered objectively beyond quoting official position, by the time people are starving, it also looks somewhat like this question and really no more or no less subject to closure for "discredit or asking internal motivations". Commented Feb 28 at 23:10
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    @Obie 2.0 - your observation could be reconciled by interpreting the Q as "for what purpose" does Israel gov + public support such methods. The answer of end goals is (oddly) less controversial than how exactly we got to this point, and why self styled champions of human rights in Western capitals choose to look the other way. The leaders in Israel are clear on their desires. In the Netanyahu era, it drives toward one state, with all the land, and a durable ethno-religious demographic majority.
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 29 at 0:56
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    I reverted the rude/abusive flags because the post doesn't violate the code of conduct. Those flags should not be used to circumvent the close vote and vote to delete curation system.
    – JJJ
    Commented Mar 2 at 15:18
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    Sorry, while "starving" in the title might have been a bit much, "actions pertaining to food and Palestinians" is waaaay too euphemistic in the current context. Getting rid of the poll results is for the best though, as that made into somewhat of a leading question. Commented Mar 5 at 17:05

6 Answers 6


There's a poll that found that Israelis want food/aid traded for hostages:

Also regarding the hostages, Channel 12 asked whether Israelis support halting humanitarian aid to Gaza until Hamas returns all the hostages it is holding. An overwhelming 72% said yes, while 21% said the aid should continue.

Beyond that, one would have to read between the lines of what some government ministers said. But, of course, that is not official policy. And to be fair, Netanyahu did cave in a fair bit to the US (e.g. opening Kerem Shalom) relative to some of those hardline initial statements from October. I'm not sure it's worth getting in all those details...

But since we have a never-heard-of-that in another answer... ("I have not seen any evidence of Israel intentionally trying to starve civilian population.") here's some Freudian slip from the early days

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” Gallant says.

“We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” he adds.

As for the (upvoted) claim Gaza is not slowly starving as of now, that's also disinformation according even to the US

On average, only 62 trucks have entered Gaza each day over the past two weeks, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — well below the 200 trucks per day Israel has committed to facilitating. Just four trucks crossed on two separate days this week. Aid groups, which have warned of a looming famine, estimate that some 500 trucks are needed each day to meet people’s basic needs.

After a string of Israeli attacks on members of Gaza’s Hamas-run civilian police force, officers withdrew earlier this month from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel. Since they left, trucks have been attacked in the crossing’s holding area, according to U.N. humanitarian coordinator James McGoldrick. Drivers have been shot at, attacked with axes and box cutters, and had their windows smashed, he said.

“With the departure of police escorts it has been virtually impossible for the U.N. or anyone else ... to safely move assistance in Gaza because of criminal gangs,” U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield, appointed by President Biden to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza, said Friday.

“Because of the attacks on the U.N. convoys and others, the value of things has risen, which only feeds a vicious cycle to empower more criminal activities,” he added. Satterfield said Israeli forces had killed as many as nine Palestinian police officers involved in protecting aid convoys, including a commander. Police include “Hamas elements” he said, but also people who are politically unaffiliated and remnants of Palestinian Authority forces.

So, yeah, Israel has a plausible excuse for causing this state of affairs, but the state exists, even according to the US.

To say nothing of what UN-linked organizations say, in more quantitative terms, e.g.

One in every 6 children in the north is suffering from acute malnutrition, according to a World Health Organization nutritional analysis, with 3 percent of them exhibiting “severe wasting” — putting them at risk of death unless they receive urgent medical treatment. [...]

The World Food Program announced it was forced to stop food deliveries to the north this week, citing the “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order.” UNRWA has not been able to make any deliveries to northern Gaza since Jan. 23, said Tamara Alrifai, its director of external relations.

Northern Gaza is where Israel declared "mission accomplished" (albeit not in those exact words) a couple of months ago.

7 January

The Israeli army says it has "completed the dismantling" of Hamas's command structure in the northern Gaza Strip.

Did the IDF just leave after that? I think their troops are still there, so it's effectively their military occupation now. Which under the Geneva Conventions obliges them to provide for the civilian population still there.

See also the somewhat provocative Q on Skeptics on this.

USAID-funded FEWS NET also had made a similar prediction in their Dec 2023 report (their last one on Gaza thus far)

There is a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) occurring in future months should conditions persist or further deteriorate. Current levels of humanitarian access and aid are far outpaced by the level of need. Urgent diplomatic and humanitarian actions – including, at a minimum, reducing administrative barriers at border crossing points to permit increased flows of humanitarian aid and fuel supply deliveries and ensuring safe and sustained humanitarian access – are required to enable an immediate scale-up of multisectoral food, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and health interventions to mitigate elevated levels of acute food insecurity, acute malnutrition, and mortality.

And the polls are not entirely irrelevant either. Israeli protesters have blocked the crossing several times according to the UN (alas exact stats on this are hard to find.) But you can see several videos on youtube of that happening, e.g..

As for the recently commenced air drops, they're the proverbial drop in the sea:

Aid groups typically drop supplies by air only as a last resort, given the inefficiency and relative cost of the method compared with road deliveries, as well as the dangers of navigating air space over a conflict zone and the risk to people who could potentially be hit as supplies fall to the ground if a safe drop zone cannot be established.

Despite the limitations of airdrops, France said it was ramping up its work with Jordan because Gaza’s “humanitarian situation is absolutely urgent,” according to a French foreign ministry statement.

“With a growing number of civilians in Gaza dying of hunger and disease,” the statement said, there need to be more avenues for aid deliveries, including the port of Ashdod in Israel, north of Gaza.

The French Air Force plane that participated in Monday’s airdrop, alongside three planes from its Jordanian counterpart, dropped more than two tons of food and hygiene supplies, the French foreign ministry said.

That amount is much smaller than what can be carried in a single truckload of supplies, and overall represents just a fraction of what the United Nations says is needed by Gaza’s more than two million residents.

Add to the list of plausible reasons: 'UNRWA is Hamas' (ibid; sometimes conceded as 'Hamas with a facelift') , so they can't be allowed to have food [to distribute] either.

Israel has agreed to a new arrangement that will allow for a massive American shipment of flour for Gazan civilians to move forward after far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blocked its transfer for over a month, a US official told The Times of Israel.

Under the new arrangement, the flour, capable of feeding 1.5 million Gazans for five months, will be ferried into Gaza by the World Food Program rather than the UNRWA relief agency for Palestinian refugees, the official said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately informed the Biden administration that Israel approved the shipment in early January. The White House announced the development on January 19, as it came under increasing pressure to do more to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

But more than one month later, the flour has yet to enter Gaza.

The shipment arrived at Israel’s Ashdod Port, but Smotrich blocked its transfer to UNRWA, which came under fire last month over allegations that 12 of its staffers participated in the October 7 terror onslaught.

The delay has angered the Biden administration, which has repeatedly noted in recent weeks that Israel is violating the commitments it made to the president.

And the anger goes the other way around too, by the way:

“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel [to Gaza], which goes to Hamas,” [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir said. “If Trump was in power, the U.S. conduct would be completely different.”

As for point-blank denials that Israel has anything to do with it, there's that too:

Asked why more aid isn’t reaching Gaza by land, Netanyahu said: “Hamas is coming at gunpoint and stealing the food.

“Humanitarian deaths and starvation is, for us, it’s a tragedy. For them, it’s a strategy. They think that this will help them place more pressure on Israel to stop the war, leave them in place so they can repeat the October 7 massacre.”

Anyhow, Netanyahu's claim is being repeated by the protesters who are trying to block the trucks on the Israeli side, i.e. that the food is not going to the children of Gaza, but to Hamas, that the sacks of rice are filled with bullets etc. But reports are that the Israeli police has been more forceful with the protesters recently. Israeli police also turned back a non-authorized convoy by (opposing) Israeli activists apparently attempting to deliver some food to Gaza, outside of the approved channels.

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    To quote a regular joke from my favorite blogger, regarding the Gallant quote: "Da war wohl der Zensor pinkeln" (the censor must have been taking a leak there). Commented Mar 1 at 13:38
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    And of course, that quote and others will haunt them in the upcoming ICJ trial. It makes plausible deniability much harder. Gallant is not some underling; he is the Minster of Defense, running the operation. The sentence alone answers the question. Commented Mar 1 at 13:48

You ask "why", when the "that" has not been proven.

Your source is Michael Fakhri, and while UN sounds objective and neutral, we know that it isn't. Mr. Fakhri is not entirely uninvolved. His family is Lebanese, his mother languages are English and Arabic. His objectivity is not a given. And, according to this link posted in the comments, quite the opposite (though that link is also not a neutral entity).

Israel has given no official statement saying why "they intentionally starve" Gaza because Israel has not officially stated anywhere that they do so.

Aid flowing into Gaza is inspected by Israeli forces, who after Oct 7th have an understandable interest in not allowing even more weapons, explosives, etc. being smuggled into Gaza.

The cause for little aid arriving in Gaza is not entirely clear, as everyone blames everyone else. For example: in this article, Israel blames the humanitarian organisations providing the aid and also claims that the distribution inside Gaza is at fault. If you search a bit, you can find hundreds of articles where different parties blame everyone except themselves.

At least from official sources, your question cannot be answered, in part because you assume something to be true that has not been demonstrated to be true.

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    One more point that leaves the scope of a narrow answer: A big problem with aid of all kinds in Gaza is that the official government of Gaza, Hamas, does not consider itself responsible for protecting or helping the people of Gaza, as they have themselves stated: hindustantimes.com/videos/world-news/…
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 29 at 13:21
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    The first paragraph is an Ad Hominen. - - The second paragraph is a tautology. - - And your conclusion is debatable. An UN report is an official source. What do you consider official sources??? Commented Feb 29 at 13:29
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    Your objection to the "officiality" of Hamas is tangential. Hamas is in charge over there whether foreign states recognize them or not.
    – carrizal
    Commented Feb 29 at 13:47
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    So Michael Fakhri is biased because ... wait for it ... he speaks Arabic! By that logic, anyone who speaks English cannot be unbiased when it comes to England or USA?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Feb 29 at 14:06
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    You're forgetting that the source is cited in The Guardian, a reputable newspaper. The article contains several graphs and offers evidence for the claim. For instance the Guardian says that "Israel has made foraging for native wild herbs like za’atar (thyme), ‘akkoub (gundelia) and miramiyyeh (sage) a criminal offense punishable by fines and up to three years’ imprisonment. Palestinians fishers have for years been shot at, arrested and sabotaged by Israeli forces – in violation of the 1995 Oslo accords permitting them fishing access up to 20 nautical miles."
    – Erwan
    Commented Feb 29 at 14:32

Why is Israel starving Gaza?

It is not. Opinions and polls aside, facts do matter. There's transfer of goods into Gaza, and Israel is not the only state bordering it. There's the border with Egypt through which goods may be imported, there's supplies being dropped into Gaza by the Jordanian and French military (with Israel's support and approval), and of course transfer of goods from Israel.

Trying to paint Israeli's self-defense as a nefarious attempt to harm Palestinians is hugely dishonest. After all, it was the Palestinians who started this war. In the end of the day the responsibility for the Gazan population is on the Gazan government, and only them. And it was that government that decided to start a war of aggression with Israel, knowing perfectly well what the response would be.

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    Not my DV, but Israel also has some control over the Rafah crossing. By agreement with the Egyptians, trucks get first inspected in Israel, even when they ultimately cross into Gaza from Egypt. Commented Feb 29 at 0:17
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    @Dolphin613Motorboat That doesn't prevent Egyptians from providing food to Gaza. The inspection is to prevent movement of weapons. Israel has no power to prevent Egypt from doing anything along its strech of the border with Gaza, so at the very least the question should read "Why are Israel and Egypt starving Gaza", but that's contrary to the Palestinian narrative.
    – littleadv
    Commented Feb 29 at 0:19
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    Israeli protesters (ie nationalist ones who support a de facto blockade) have been blocking the border crossing, and Israeli army protects the protesters. ... washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/10/… ... There's some back and forth on this, but generally it's a similar attitude as the authorities show to de facto annexation, piecemeal, by settlers of the West Bank
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 29 at 1:03
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    Hmmm, let's separate the military ground operations in Gaza - the self-defense part - from food issues for a second. It is not exactly candid to claim Israel has no part in food supply issues. lemonde.fr/en/international/article/2024/02/15/… Especially not when their government is on the record about limiting aid in case Hamas gets it. Israel is doing itself no favors by following this policy and this reputational damage will get much worse if more people starve. As it should. Commented Feb 29 at 1:07
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    Facts do matter: timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/…
    – kaya3
    Commented Feb 29 at 16:29

Israel does not want Palestinians in Gaza (or elsewhere) and they manage to have quite high birth rate. Israel does not consider assimilating Palestinians as desirable and has reasons for that. For starters, Israel does not want to implement two-state solution, and every Palestinian in Palestine is a reason for two-state solution to be implemented.

Therefore, Israel will be happy if some/most of Gazans disappear. Whether they go to Egypt or EU or under the ground is of secondary significance. Palestinians in Gaza will always be a problem for Israel and it has no plans of normalizing the coexistence with them. Israel is not going to issue passports to them, nor would it recognize Palestine.

Therefore, politically it is beneficial for them if Gazans starve. Especially if they plausible do it on their own, due to their uncooperativeness and continued resistance.

The IPC... estimates that 677,000 people, 32%, are in ‘catastrophic’ conditions today and a further 41% in ‘emergency.’ It expects fully half of Gazans, more than 1 million people, to be in ‘catastrophe’ or ‘famine’ within weeks

The current level of starvation in Gaza now makes it comparable to the siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany and Finland, which claimed at least a million and a half lives, and for similar reasons.

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    "Israel does not want palestineans in Gaza (or elsewhere)" Sources for this, please.
    – DeepSpace
    Commented Feb 29 at 15:58
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    @DeepSpace I would like to see a single source where Israel is going to see independent Gaza not under Israeli security control, or where Israel is going to integrate Gazans as its citizens.
    – alamar
    Commented Mar 6 at 11:44

The official explanation is that they're trying to ensure that weapons doesn't get in.

Aid is being kept snarled up in red-tape, with onerous, repetitive and unpredictable approval and screening processes that can contribute to trucks being left in transit and stranded in queues on average for 20 days.

Even before 7 October, Israel restricted the entry of thousands of items both to the West Bank and Gaza through the Defence Export Control Law (2007) and the Defence Export Control Order (2008). Different countries adopt different protocols on regulating trade in dual-use items, however international best practice is established by the Wassenaar Arrangement, a voluntary export control regime signed by 42 countries. Israel’s lists go far beyond this international standard. As a result of Israel’s stringent controls, many items are almost never allowed to enter Gaza at all.

Perhaps, they could do a better job at screening the cargo going in, but that's another question. One could wonder whether they're intentionally making the process inefficient to prevent sufficient aid from coming in, but that's just speculation.



Has the state of Israel given any justification for any actions it has taken that affect Palestinians' access to food in Gaza? What rationale has the state of Israel given?

Israeli claims
Israel denies that it is limiting food supplies to Gaza:

Israel unequivocally determined that Gaza was not suffering a humanitarian crisis. According to officials, since the beginning of the war, Israel has allowed the entry of over 17,400 aid trucks to the Gaza Strip, including over 10,300 trucks carrying more than 218,000 tons of food.

A recent AIPAC report details the food deliveries and suggests that the food shortages are mainly due to the inefficiency in its distribution by the Humanitarian organizations - notably blaming the UN:

On March 3, the U.N. received 234 trucks in Gaza but only distributed 131 trucks of aid to civilians in the enclave.

The report also claims that that the amount of food supplies entering Gaza exceeds the pre-war levels:

During the war, more food trucks have entered Gaza than prior to the war — on average an increase of more than 50% per day. 184,5000 tons of food have entered Gaza since the start of the war. On March 3, 4,160 tons of food were delivered on 187 trucks.

(image source)
enter image description here

UN claims
Note that Israel blames the UN for the inefficient distribution of food - indeed, Israeli data (reflected in the AIPAC report) are in response to the UN claim that received some currency, notably due to Joseph Borrel, that Israel is blocking food deliveries. Indeed, the UN provides spectacular numbers... but only in terms of trucks:

enter image description here

Per ReliefWeb:

The United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator stated that around 100 trucks of humanitarian supplies per day are needed to meet the needs of the more than two million residents of Gaza. Accordingly, reports that a US-brokered agreement was reached to allow only 20 trucks containing food, water and medical aid—but no fuel—to pass through Rafah crossing raise major concerns. Notably, before 7 October, on an ordinary day, around 500 trucks were entering Gaza—350 from Kerem Shalom and 150 from Rafah crossings.

The relation between trucks and the tons of food is not entirely clear. While the food crisis is tangible, there is a lot of supplies other than food was included in humanitarian aid delivered before the war:

enter image description here

Other reports about Israel restricting food deliveries to Gaza have focused on how Israel does it rather than on the numbers. While these reports likely reflect real incidents, it is not clear whether they reflect the causes of the crisis: specifically the recent reports by Oxfam and by Amnesty International, reiterating the UN numbers.

Air drops and sea route
Israel also have coordinated the deliveries of food via air drops and via sea route (indeed, it is hard to imagine how this could have happened otherwise, given Israel's control over the airspace and sea borders of Gaza.)

Note that the President Biden's promise to built a port in Gaza was opposed by Qatar and Iran, with the latter subsequently changing its position, after being solicited by the US to participate in the project.

U.S. seeks exile of Hamas leaders by creation temporary port in Gaza: Expert
US port plan to step up aid delivery to Gaza criticised as ‘distraction’

(image source)
enter image description here

Deliveries via Rafah
Finally, there is an issue of deliveries through Egypt and Rafah crossing being controlled by the Sinai oligarchs/mafia:

The company also took over the shipping and transport of aid through the inspection processes on its arrival to the Palestinian side, according to both Red Crescent sources.

The company specialized in transporting aid shipments coming in from other countries and international organizations, especially shipments that arrive in Egypt via ports and airports outside of North Sinai. The reason, according to one of the Red Crescent sources, is the special status that the company’s trucks enjoy when they arrive at checkpoints and Suez Canal ferries, where they are quickly authorized to pass, whereas other trucks undergo strict inspection and may be grounded for days while waiting for special security clearance and authorization for passage.

This is why some countries, notably Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have proceeded to deal with the Sons of Sinai directly, according to the source. Other countries, described by the source as “pitiable,” such as those of Latin America or the rest of the Gulf countries, have not sent delegates to accompany their shipments and are still reliant on the Red Crescent, which in turn deals with the Sons of Sinai.

[...] Beginning on December 29, data published by the Palestinian General Authority for Crossings and Borders in Gaza mentioned under the subheading “private sector” the entry of 30 to 60 trucks per day through the Rafah crossing out of the 150 trucks that were allowed into the strip daily through the Rafah and Karam Abu Salem crossings.

Worth noting that deliberately starving Gazans would constitute and act of genocide. Indeed, the arrest warrant issue against Netanyahu and Gallant by the ICJ cites limiting food supplies:

On the Israeli side, the statement accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yaov Gallant of the crimes of starvation of civilians, willful killing, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, persecution, extermination and/or murder, and other inhumane acts since at least October 8.

The US President and State department disagree with this accusations:

“Let me be clear,” he said, “we reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. Whatever these warrants may imply, there’s no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

“What’s happening is not genocide.”

Biden’s comments were echoed by Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, who said the US “fundamentally rejects” the decision to seek the arrests of Israeli officials and warned that it could jeopardise efforts to reach a ceasefire.

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    There's a bit of subtlety here that's not mentioned by COGAT (which AIPAC & AFP gets that data from). Before the war Gaza was self-sufficient in fruits and vegetables, but that's gone now. press.un.org/en/2024/…. Alas none of the actors here are too interested in a totally honest accounting of combined aid+production... so I couldn't find that figure. Commented Mar 26 at 18:46
  • Anyhow, the AFP graph agrees in its latter portions with what OCHA says "the average number entering per day has fallen since Feb. 9 to 60 a day from more than 140 daily in January, according to figures from the U.N. office for humanitarian coordination, known as OCHA." There's your problem--as the saying goes. It's not clear where the excess (if any) went in the previous months but Gaza was probably not getting enough in Feb, thus all the rushes on aid convoys that did get in. Commented Mar 26 at 18:54
  • FWTW, Haaretz reported at the end of Oct that some of the food was useless as it couldn't be cooked due to lack of fuel. Exactly how much is unclear. Commented Mar 26 at 18:59
  • Mid Nov they did decide to allow some fuel in, but only for water & sewage plants, to prevent a cholera etc. outbreak timesofisrael.com/… The Q is whether food aid was adapted to these conditions. The US e.g. sent a crapton of flour [by ship], but if can't be cooked... At least the aircraft dropped MREs. OTOH the skyrocketing price of flour in Gaza suggests that they have some use for it. Commented Mar 26 at 19:17
  • If this is accurate, onions now cost 50x what they did before the war in Gaza, leafy vegetables 25x. Cooking oil price increased only by a factor of 3. Flour prices vary widely between south gaza and the north [factor of 20], but alas there's no pre-war comparison made there. There's probably no veggies in the north. One interesting Q is how much food entering is aid and how much is commercial, now compared to before war. Couldn't find that either. Commented Mar 26 at 19:33

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