On March 18, Josep Borrell, the European Union's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, claimed that Israel is deliberately causing famine in Gaza:

"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."

(emphasis is mine)

Have any other high-ranking European or American officials or heads of states made such an accusation towards Israel?

I am specifically interested in the statements blaming Israel for deliberately/intentionally starving Gaza. That is, I am not interested in the statements pointing out that Gaza is on the brink of famine or pointing out that this famine is a consequence of the ongoing war.

E.g., António Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, has characterized the shortage of food in Gaza as a man-made disaster, but did not specify that it was intentional:

“Palestinians in Gaza are enduring horrifying levels of hunger and suffering”, said UN Secretary General António Guterres outside the Security Council in New York, describing the IPC report as an "appalling indictment of conditions on the ground for civilians".

“This is the highest number of people facing catastrophic hunger ever recorded by the Integrated Food Security Classification system – anywhere, anytime,” he added.

This is an entirely man-made disaster, and the report makes clear that it can be halted,” he warned, saying this showed the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

“I call on the Israeli authorities to ensure complete and unfettered access for humanitarian goods throughout Gaza and for the international community to fully support our humanitarian efforts.

(emphasis is mine)

Also relevant are recent statements made in a Congressional hearing by Lloyd Austin (according to New York Times):

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the Pentagon had no evidence that Israel was carrying out a genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Austin made the comments in testimony at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that was disrupted several times by demonstrators protesting U.S. support for Israel’s assault on Hamas. More than 33,000 people have died in Israeli bombardments on Gaza, according to Gazan health officials, and severe hunger is sweeping through the Palestinian enclave.

Reuters specifically mentions famine:

A deadly, mass famine in Gaza would likely accelerate violence and ensure a long-term conflict, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Senate hearing on Tuesday, even as he dismissed accusations that Israel was responsible for an unfolding genocide in the Palestinian enclave.

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    The list is going to be pretty long, I suspect. You might want to put a bar on 'high ranking'. Do e.g. US Senators count? Commented Apr 10 at 9:30
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    The part about "high-ranking" isn't specific. Why not just edit that 3rd paragraph, something like "...or American officials (congress, cabinet, governors, mayors... )? Commented Apr 10 at 22:58
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    @OwenReynolds I wanted to exclude congressmen, senators, deputies and others who express their private opinions rather than the official policy. And whose opinions have more to do with seeking voters' support than with the factual knowledge. If you can propose a clear formulation, I am open to suggestions.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 11 at 7:08
  • You just said it -- you want "official policy". Change your title to "Western nations which officially accuse ... ". And down below change to "expressions of official policy from high-ranking members (not anonymous leaks or trial balloons, statements which are later clarified...)." Commented Apr 11 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


On April 6, 2024, Irish Prime Minister-designate (Taoiseach-designate) and leader of the governing Fine Gael party Simon Harris said:

Anyone who can countenance deliberate starvation has lost their humanity. Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Irish people could not be clearer. We are repulsed by your actions. Cease fire now and let the aid flow safely.

He added on April 9, 2024

Men, women and children are being slaughtered and starved. We are not silent on Hamas's October 7 massacre but nor can we be silent on Israel's actions.

The Irish deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin on 27 March 2024 condemned

The purposeful withholding of humanitarian assistance to civilians. ... The collective punishment of an entire population.

Martin's comment doesn't specifically mention food but would seem to include it as part of the wider aid being kept out of Gaza.

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    Note that this says "let the aid flow safely"--it is not saying that starvation is being deliberately used. Commented Apr 11 at 3:38
  • @LorenPechtel But the preceding “deliberate starvation” is pretty unambiguous about the starvation being deliberately inflicted. The question doesn’t require that statements explicitly say that deliberate famine is used as deliberately as a weapon of war – that’s just what the quote in the question happens to say. Commented Apr 12 at 8:07
  • @JanusBahsJacquet But note that it doesn't say that Israel is the one deliberately starving. We have a whole bunch of arguments that give the impression of Israel doing misdeeds but always stopping short of actually doing so. I think there's a reason for that lack: that they aren't going to say things that can be proven false. Commented Apr 13 at 1:56

If you're willing to give some wiggle room for slithgly more ambiguous statements, the list seems somewhat longer:

“I see today there is a very large population [in Gaza] at risk of famine,” the Belgian leader told journalists in Amman, Jordan, during a whistle-stop tour of the Middle East. “It’s up to Israel to prove that famine won’t be used as a weapon of war.” [...]

“We see that there is a lot of aid that is held up by controls that are repetitive and superfluous given the needs on the ground,” he told a press conference with former Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag, who is now the U.N.’s coordinator for humanitarian aid in Gaza. [...]

“Belgium has a very clear position. We are part of a core of countries, with Spain and Ireland, that have been calling for a cease-fire,” De Croo said.

If one glosses over the more rhetorical claims and focuses on the substance of the 2nd para I quoted from De Croo, that can be found elsewhere, e.g. by UK's FM, David Cameron (who also adds something about water):

In a blistering letter, the UK foreign secretary said aid was not getting into Gaza owing to “arbitrary denials by the government of Israel and lengthy clearance procedures, including multiple screenings and narrow opening windows in daylight hours”. [...]

Cameron said Israel had the ability to turn the water supplies back on by allowing fuel to enter Gaza for water pumping and [de?]salination. He said that in northern Gaza 300,000 people were without water. “Israel has the ability to turn the taps back – they should do so,” he wrote.

In the realm of more ambiguous statements:

"There must be levers of influence and there are multiple levers, going up to sanctions to let humanitarian aid cross check points," [FM] Stephane Sejourne told RFI radio and France 24 television.

"France was one of the first countries to propose European Union sanctions on Israeli settlers who are committing acts of violence in the West Bank. We will continue if needed to obtain the opening of humanitarian aid," he said.

Yeah, he doesn't say Israeli checkpoints, but how much can France [extra] sanction Hamas, which is already declared a terror organization? Anyhow, i24 interpreted that as a sanctions threat against Israel.

TBH, I'm still not sure if you include legislators among "high ranking officials", but some French and US senators have made such claims too, in more or less direct terms.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go down in history for "using hunger as a weapon" in Gaza, the president of the ecologist group in the French Senate said [...]

  • “The United States cannot be complicit in the use of starvation as a weapon of war,” [Bernie Sanders] said. [He was actually a bit more explicit earlier]: "So let’s be clear: Netanyahu’s rightwing government is starving Gaza."

  • [Sen. Warren]: I believe that they’ll find that it is genocide [...] It is wrong to starve children within a civilian population in order to try to bend them to your will.

  • [Back in Feb, Sen. Van Hollen]: "Kids in Gaza are now dying from the deliberate withholding of food," Van Hollen said. "[...] It is a textbook war crime. And that makes those who orchestrate it, war criminals. [...] The president must demand that the Netanyahu government immediately allow more food and water and other life-saving supplies into Gaza and make sure it reaches the children and other people who are starving, including in the north," the senator said.

  • Sen. Merkley: Israel has had great reluctance about providing aid into Gaza, and yet they control all the entry points into Gaza, so they are the critical factor. [...] It’s why I’ve been calling for the U.S. to bypass Israel and do direct deliveries of aid. [...] We have the ability to get aid onshore with our huge sealift and airlift capability and then have it distributed by humanitarian organizations. We are complicit now in the starvation and humanitarian catastrophe because of our close relationship, and this has to end. We have to act directly. [...] I have not used the word “genocide.” [...] But let’s just describe that these circumstances, being deliberately inflicted upon the people, and the displacement, have many of the characteristics of the worst situations around the world that we have condemned previously.

I'm not really inclined to look for more, right now.

  • What senators and deputies say is interesting, but these are private opinions, rather than an official position of a state, which is presumed to be grounded in facts and analysis thereof. Though I am not sure whether Borrell's statement reflected the EU official position either.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 10 at 13:07
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    And, once again, words that weasel around it rather than actually addressing it. And note that "deliberate withholding of food" doesn't mean that it's Israel doing it. You're supposed to jump to that conclusion and ignore the possibility that it's Hamas that's withholding it. Commented Apr 11 at 3:43
  • @LorenPechtel: well, in a previous Q the OP mentioned that much of the press just gives certain vibes on this. But the vibes might actually be coming from other/their sources. Commented Apr 11 at 3:55

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