-12

Note that the emphasis of the question is not on whether there's famine in Gaza, but on the accusations made against Israel of deliberately causing it

Throughout March multiple western media have reported on famine in Gaza, and claimed that Israel was directly and deliberately causing it. This is reflected in several threads in this community. A week ago Israeli COGAT (Coordination of government activities inn territories) published a report disputing these accusations and specifically the UN report on which they were based. It seems that since then the reporting on the famine in Gaza virtually ceased, although I haven't seen any major western outlet either discussing the report or retracting the accusations.

It seems that western media (and some politicians) ran with an unverified story, landing hand to what possibly amounts to a modern version of a blood libel. (Although high-level media, like Reuters, are usually careful enough to use formulations rounded enough to be deniable - merely communicating certain vibes.)

Have any major western media discussed the COGAT report or compared it with the UN report? Have any western media/politicians publicly rectified their position in respect to the causes of the food shortages in Gaza? Are there still food shortages in Gaza?

Remark
It seems that pro-Palestinian media not directly affiliated with Hamas sponsors (which, e.g., is the case of Qatari Al-Jazeera) have generally avoided directly blaming Israel. E.g., Palestinian reporters writing for the New Humanitarian detail Israel's month-long but inefficient efforts to organize food distribution in Gaza. Another example is Egyptian Mada Masr, where word "starvation" appears last time on November 28, in a rather generic content.

Reuters: Famine imminent in northern Gaza, says UN-backed report
The Economist: Gaza is on the brink of a man-made famine
Le Monde: UNRWA says Israel is barring all aid deliveries to famine-stricken northern Gaza
BBC: Gaza starvation could amount to war crime, UN human rights chief tells BBC

Israel Hits Back at UN Report Warning of Gaza Famine
Israel Disputes Report of Imminent Famine in Gaza

Update

"In Gaza we are no longer on the brink of famine, we are in a state of famine, affecting thousands of people," Borrell said at the opening of a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Brussels.

"This is unacceptable. Starvation is used as a weapon of war. Israel is provoking famine."

He also dismissed claims that Israel was deliberately starving Palestinians, explaining that no other army in modern-day history has done as much as Israel to provide for enemy civilians during wartime.

The blood libel accusation against Israel, that they’re using starvation as a weapon of war, I will debate anybody anytime, anywhere about that.”

  • The UN-affiliated World Food Program specifies that famine is "imminent" (but not declared yet), and that it applies only to the north of Gaza:

Famine is imminent in the north of Gaza. Malnutrition among children is proceeding at record pace, and one of three children below the age of two is now acutely malnourished or “wasted”.

13
  • 8
    Your premise that western media stopped reporting on the famine in Gaza is wrong, here is an article from yesterday: theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/apr/04/… Note that even if there is no new article on the famine in Gaza every day that does not imply Western media stopped believing the famine is happening. It just means there is no news on the topic.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 5 at 7:34
  • 6
    Newspapers report news, generally changes in the situation. The same status as 2 weeks ago is not news. The Gaza news of today seems to be that the US pressured Israel into opening the Eres border crossing to allow more aid in to aleviate civilian suffering. My interpretation: That is consistent with an ongoing famine but wouldn't make much sense if civilians in Gaza are doing fine.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 5 at 7:43
  • 5
    This is as much a pro-Israeli push question as any of the anti-Israeli push questions that occasionally show up. "The characterizations of famine have been proven fake and are the same as blood libel, am I right?" -1.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Apr 5 at 8:23
  • 3
    This is just the "pro-Israeli" version of a hypothetical "pro-Palestinian" question that asks "Have any Western media or politicians apologized for saying that Hamas killed civilians? (Insert October 7 truther organization here) has issued a reported proving that they did not, and that saying that they did is Islamaphobic." If someone can see why the latter question is not helpful for the site, it should be clear why this is not.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Apr 5 at 8:37
  • 2
    Not if you change the Q after it's answered, IMHO. Also, you've shown extreme aversion in the past on anyone editing your questions. So, take it to meta. You can also ask your new Q separately, FWTW. Commented Apr 6 at 9:53

3 Answers 3

4

("mea culpa" is Latin for "my fault", "I am sorry")

It would be very odd for a walk back of concerns, today, April 5th, right after the IDF mistakenly kills 7 aid workers (whose organization was one of those supposed to be replacing the UNRWA) on April 1st. Thus stopping most aid deliveries to the primary area of concern, Gaza North, in its immediate aftermath

Certainly, Israel's most staunch backer, the US, isn't, quite, doing any mea culpa-ing:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden issued a stark warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that future U.S. support for Israel’s Gaza war depends on the swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

Sample of famine articles today, April 5th, skipping past UN or NGOs:

VOA Six months into war, UN chief demands 'quantum leap' in Gaza aid

Just back from Gaza, Soeripto described seeing malnourished children searching for food, many of them climbing barefoot over glass and debris.

Australia @ UN

Statement by H.E. Mr James Larsen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

....

Instead, more than a million Palestinians are on the brink of famine, more than 30,000 civilians and more than 190 humanitarian workers have been killed.

USA Today - Pregnant women in Gaza Strip face starvation, no anesthesia after 6 months of war

NY Time Gazans Describe Search for Food and Wonder If It Will Get Worse

Sky News - 'Horrifying increase in the number of kids': Long lines for watery soup amid fears of mass starvation

There's plenty more where that came from and none of these press agencies are known to support Hamas all that much.

So you can expect to wait a while for the "mea culpa". Let's hope an apology is warranted, later, because Israel will have taken steps to fix the problem, before it gets any worse.

btw, here's a March 23rd op-ed in the Jerusalem Post.

Therefore, although the report is from a UN-accepted source and the United Nations is notoriously hostile to Israel and often unfair in its reports on the Jewish state, we must assume that the shocking report is substantially true.

I agree the UN, through its one-country, one-vote, system, is often biased against Israel. Maybe not as much as Israel claims, but still substantially so. But that doesn't mean that what it claims will always be false.

Nor, while we are on the subject of bias, does Smotrich being in charge @ COGAT inspire all that much trust in its pronouncements:

The death of those aid workers is not an "isolated incident" either. The only really exceptional aspect to it is they were Westerners, so hard to pin as "Hamas goons" and eliciting a lot more press coverage. We have had months of reports of civilians being bombed on the way to IDF-announced safe zones, after being told to evacuate. Others may attribute deliberate malice to the IDF, I do not. But it does give a strong hint that safe-passage and deconfliction procedures are very, very, brittle in Gaza right now and that that affects aid supplies:

A UN official says the Israeli attack which killed seven staff of the charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) is either a "dreadful failure of deconfliction" or evidence that the system that exists now is not fit for purpose.

The official, who has extensive experience in Gaza and asked not to be identified, said that the greatest fear of aid workers is that the Civilian Liaison Administration, the branch of the Israeli military tasked with co-ordinating with humanitarian organisations, "doesn't really have a grip".

NPR : Over six months of war in Gaza, around 200 aid workers have been killed. Few of them have received as much attention as the seven employees of World Central Kitchen.

If there is insufficient political will to grant deconfliction specialists override on the local chains of command, you'll get just this kind of "isolated incidents".

15
  • 1
    Yes, the recent WCK staff killings make any flip-flops improbable right now. OTOH, the COGAT position on the amount of aid let in has been practically the same since early January. Commented Apr 6 at 2:06
  • 6
    @RogerV. Israel just killed a bunch of aid workers, that severly disrupts any food distribution in Gaza. So yes, Israel just very directly prevented food reaching Gaza. Granted this in particular thing was presumably by accident, but the disruption is there nonetheless.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 6 at 7:03
  • 2
    @RogerV. No, the killing of aid workers has been ongoing. The "isolated element" in this instance is that these were Western aid workers and hard to pin as Hamas goons. I see you've "changed the emphasis" of your question. Thing is, while they weren't in yesterdays "harvest" of supposedly waning press coverage, both Reuters and Economist have repeatedly quoted off-the-record IDF members expressing disquiet at Israel's respect of the Geneva conventions wrt food. They blame it on the political will. And, yes, who is fronting COGAT and the fact that he is a Jewish supremacist does matter... Commented Apr 6 at 15:57
  • 1
    No, the killing of aid workers has been ongoing. - this is another grave accusation, so I suppose you have a proof of that? Aside: I wonder, whether Israel is the only western nation against whom you are prone to make accusations so easily.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 9 at 6:59
  • 1
    @RogerV. NPR : Over six months of war in Gaza, around 200 aid workers have been killed. Few of them have received as much attention as the seven employees of World Central Kitchen. Whom I criticize is my business, but rest assured if any Western government was behaving like Bibi's I'd most assuredly be accusing them too. For one thing, I have long said that NATO bomb-happiness in Afghanistan was a factor in that mission's failure. Why not accuse me of antisemitism while you are it? Commented Apr 9 at 17:12
2

Frame challenge: as long as international and other organizations/NGOs like the IPC still stick to their version, I don't see outright apologies very forthcoming. The COGAT [counter-]claims are not particularly new either, having been nearly the same since January 10, at least (i.e. 4 months ago). So, anyone (like AIPAC) who believes COGAT in preference to the other sources has probably taken their stance already.

Personally, I find some of the COGAT/AIPAC claims slightly hard to believe in themselves, especially that Gaza was getting less food before the war than the minimum set out in a 2008 Israeli government study (which is true, the Israeli gov't says they've "never used"). To quote/repeat myself from Skeptics in that regard:

COGAT claims the pre-war average number of food trucks entering Gaza was 70/day, the IPC says it was 150. That's a factor of 2 right there, before even talking about wartime numbers. Interestingly enough, that 70 is lower than the 106 figure published in an Israeli government study from 2008 titled "Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip - The Red Lines", as the minimum to "maintain the basic fabric of life" in Gaza, although that apparently included "essential goods" besides food, so it's somewhat inconclusive. But from the details in the Gisha translation (table on slide 4) the [minimum] number of food trucks was estimated to be 77, in that study. Based on slide 8, that 77 figure was supplemented by an additional 12-truck equivalents supplied via the later demolished Karni conveyor belt. The conclusion on slide 14 says that "about 90 truckloads of basic food, certainly meets nutritional needs in the Gaza Strip". FWTW, the Israeli government says they never made use of that study.

And yeah, the factor of 2 discrepancy in estimates before the war is then multiplied by another factor of [about] 2 for the shipments during the war. So, overall, on the ratio of during-war to pre-war food trucks entering Gaza, AIPAC/COGAT disagree with the IPC by a factor of about 4 (3.75 to 4.5 if one is more nitpicky on the details. IPC claims the during-war to pre-war ratio is 0.4, AIPAC says it's greater than 1.5. The April Israeli government report you linked to says it's an even greater factor of 1.8, but it's less clear on the period, only saying "in recent months". As early as January 10, COGAT officials were saying nearly the same thing in press interviews--albeit the factor claimed then was 1.57.) Alternative facts right there, although on this angle specifically, one can refer to older, perhaps more memorable quotes as well.

FWTW, in their March 18 assessment, the USAID-funded FEWS NET essentially repeats the IPC claims/forecast. I've asked separately if the US government has provided its own independent estimates (but it seems they haven't).

N.B. that controversy may be actually less than it seems wrt pre-war entries. It looks like OCHA is/was counting per-working-day before the war (because the crossings were mostly closed on weekends), but COGAT has recalculated that on a full weekday basis, including in the report you link to. (That's a factor of about 1.4.)

But if you think that solves it, naah... here's the new twist; OCHA claims that since the war at least, Israel is counting half-empty trucks as full:

UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Laerke said Israel typically counts the half-filled trucks going through an initial screening process, rather than repacked, full trucks for delivery inside Gaza.

So the diverging narratives on this continue.

2
-2

Yes, more than 800 government officials in the United States and Europe released a letter criticizing their countries' leaders for providing unconditional military and diplomatic support to Israel as it inflicts disaster on Gaza's population (source).

The wording "mea culpa" is somewhat complex to understand. Israel itself is likely still more responsible and has own resources to do that it does.

2
  • 2
    Not sure how this is related to the question. Please write a more detailed answer.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 5 at 8:18
  • I understood the question "Have any western media/politicians expressed disagreement to support for Israel in the context of starving Gaza and thing the like". Maybe the question would benefit from using more English and less Latin.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Apr 5 at 8:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .