Expert warns: Gaza faces unprecedented famine in decades as Israel tightens grip

    Experts alarm over the rapid deterioration of life in Gaza, citing Israel's stringent blockade as a catalyst for a famine crisis unseen in modern history.

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    Alex de Waal, a renowned famine expert and executive director at the World Peace Foundation, has characterized the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza as unparalleled in modern history. Speaking with Al Jazeera, de Waal pointed out the rapidity with which living conditions in Gaza have deteriorated due to Israel’s blockade, emphasizing that such a decline has not been observed anywhere else in the world over the last 75 years. “Nothing is comparable in terms of the speed and the concentrated effort at destroying what is essential to sustain the life of people — nothing compares to Gaza,” he stated.

    De Waal’s analysis draws from his extensive research on famines globally, including those triggered by human actions, and serves as a chilling indictment of the situation in Gaza. The blockade enforced by Israeli forces has led to severe shortages of food, water, and basic necessities, driving the region into a crisis of unprecedented scale and speed. De Waal’s findings highlight the intentional nature of Israel’s actions, which are in direct violation of the International Court of Justice’s orders to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza and prevent further harm to its residents.

    The logistical challenges of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza have been exacerbated by Israel’s stringent border checks. Supplies arriving at Egyptian ports must undergo multiple inspections before they can enter Gaza, severely limiting the flow of essential goods. Prior to the conflict, approximately 500 trucks a day entered Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem crossing, a number that has dwindled to a mere handful now, compounding the already dire situation.

    De Waal, in his interviews and writings, has underscored the alarming pace at which Gaza’s humanitarian conditions have worsened. Drawing parallels with historical sieges and famines, he noted that even the sieges of Syrian cities by the Assad regime do not compare to the current crisis in Gaza. The deliberate effort to strip away the essentials of life in Gaza marks a grim chapter in the history of human-induced famines.

    The international community, led by organizations like the UN-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), has recognized the gravity of the situation, with a quarter of Gaza’s population facing famine – the most acute hunger crisis ranked by the IPC. The rest of the population is enduring severe food shortages, placing them in crisis or emergency phases of food insecurity. This classification underscores the severity of the crisis and the urgent need for a global response.

    Amidst this backdrop of despair, the stories of Gaza’s residents resonate with the pain of hunger and the struggle for survival. Reports of families resorting to drinking contaminated water and consuming inedible food underscore the human cost of the blockade. The World Health Organization has relayed heart-wrenching accounts from Palestinians, with one individual recounting the consumption of a moldy potato infested with worms out of sheer desperation.

    In concluding his grim assessment of Gaza’s plight, Alex de Waal offered a sobering perspective: “Even if the driver puts on the brakes, its momentum will take it many miles before it stops. Palestinian children in Gaza will die, in the thousands, even if the barriers to aid are lifted today.”

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