US in denial about Israel’s use of food as a “weapon of war” – Day 165

US in denial about Israel’s use of food as a “weapon of war” – Day 165

Weaponization of food in Gaza – only US is still in doubt; Oxfam, HRW to US: don’t believe Israel; Israel reportedly fires on Palestinian leaders heading up aid distribution; World Central Kitchen aid reaches some in north; WaPo investigation indicates unlawful killing by Israel; 100K Israelis have guns; South Africa shames the world; more

By IAK staff, from reports

ON THE WEAPONIZATION OF FOOD IN GAZA – In a State Department briefing Tuesday, spokesperson Vedant Patel responded to a question about Israel’s use of food as a weapon of war – a war crime:

“That is not something that we have observed or witnessed, but we continue to be deeply concerned…We need to redouble our efforts to ensure that aid can get to the places that it needs to go…[Y]esterday we saw 69 trucks enter via Rafah…I spoke about an 18-truck convoy making its way from the south to the north. And we’ve also seen reports of 182 trucks entering yesterday via Kerem Shalom. [but] more needs to be done…”

QUESTION: “But why is it that the U.S. disagrees with the assessment of Mr. Türk that there is – that it’s – that it’s being used as a weapon of war?”

MR PATEL: “Because we’re seeing aid and food and these kinds of provisions enter Gaza. They – they are not entering at the rate or clip that they need to be, they are not entering fast enough, they are not getting to the places that they need to go, and that’s why we’ve called for more. But I’m not – I am not in a place to offer any kind of like legal or geopolitical assessment, and it’s certainly not one that we have seen or characterized.”

These comments come as top officials of the EU, UN and major NGOs worldwide have accused Israel of weaponizing hunger in its war on Gaza.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM HUMAN RIGHTS ORGS – Oxfam and Human Rights Watch submit this memorandum in response to NSM-20, which establishes that the United States Departments of State and Defense will receive assurances from countries that receive US military assistance that they use US-origin “defense articles” in compliance with international law, and that they have not arbitrarily impeded or delayed US-funded or supported humanitarian assistance during the calendar year 2023.

Oxfam, an international humanitarian and development organization, and Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, together write to you to demonstrate that any such assurances from the Israeli government, a major recipient of US arms, are not credible, especially in light of the conduct of Israeli forces since the onset of hostilities in October 2023.

Oxfam and Human Rights Watch have observed or documented that the Israeli authorities have carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in violation of international humanitarian law following the Hamas-led October 7 attacks in Israel, imposed collective punishments on the civilian population, deprived the civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival, and used starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.

These are all grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international humanitarian law. The vast majority of Gaza’s population has also been forced to flee their homes, many as a result of Israeli actions that amount to war crimes.

(Read the full, detailed, and annotated report here.)

DIFFERENT KIND OF “FLOUR MASSACRE” – Palestine Chronicle reports: At least 23 Palestinians were killed Tuesday by Israeli shelling of a group of people who were helping facilitate the distribution of international aid to at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza City.

Israel has carried out many “flour massacres” against Palestinians waiting for aid in northern and central Gaza in recent days – but the latest attack is different.

Lately, Gaza clan and tribal representatives have organized to receive the aid, and to facilitate its distribution, and have been doing so with relative success in recent days, using designated distribution spots belonging to UNRWA – locations that Israel itself has deemed “safe.”

Nevertheless, this Israeli attack targeted tribal committee members. That is, they were working to stop Israeli massacres, but have become themselves victims of Israel’s ongoing massacres in the Strip.

GAZAN OFFICIALS TARGETEDAccording to Al Jazeera: An Israeli air attack has killed the director of police investigations, Raed al Banna in northern Gaza along with his wife after their house was targeted Tuesday morning. Al-Banna was responsible for securing and facilitating the entry of aid trucks into northern Gaza.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed the head of the police force, Faiq Mabhouh, who was also responsible for coordinating aid trucks into northern Gaza.


FOOD AT LAST, FOR A FEW – Middle East Monitor reports: World Central Kitchen (WCK), a US-based charity, has confirmed that a consignment of almost 200 tons of food aid reached starving people in northern Gaza Tuesday, a week after being despatched by sea from Cyprus.

WCK, working with the UAE and Spanish charity Open Arms, sent the food via the 200-mile (322-km) sea route from Larnaca to a makeshift jetty off Gaza. The consignment arrived on Friday. A convoy of eight trucks belonging to the World Food Programme (WFP) then ferried the aid — the equivalent of half a million meals — to its final destination.

The humanitarian aid arriving in Gaza, on Friday.
The humanitarian aid arriving in Gaza, on Friday. (photo)

UNLAWFUL KILLING – Washington Post reports: An investigation by The Washington Post is raising “critical questions” about Israeli justification for the killing of two journalists in Gaza in January.

Hamza Dahdouh, the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, was killed in an Israeli missile attack in Khan Younis, along with another journalist Mustafa Thuraya and their driver. Two others were seriously wounded.

In a statement following the attack, the Israeli army said a military aircraft “identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to [Israeli] troops”.

In reality, according to The Post, the journalists were operating a consumer model drone to capture footage of a building hit during Israeli bombardment. The video from Thuraya’s drone showed no “Israeli soldiers, aircraft, or other military equipment” were visible.

“The Post found no indications that either man was operating as anything other than a journalist that day. Both passed through Israeli checkpoints on their way to the south early in the war. Dahdouh had recently been approved to leave Gaza, a rare privilege unlikely to have been granted to a known militant.”

In response to multiple inquiries and detailed questions from The Post, the IDF said: “We have nothing further to add.”

NOTE: The Committee to Protect Journalsits (CPJ) reports that as of March 19, preliminary investigations showed Israeli attacks have killed at least 90 Palestinian journalists and media workers since October 7th.
CPJ is also investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.
Under international law, journalists are to enjoy full protection as civilians.

Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah (photo)

WEST BANK DEATHS – WAFA reports: A young man, Ziad Hamran, age 31, died of wounds he sustained when Israeli occupation forces shot him Tuesday evening south of Bethlehem. then lef him bleeding on the ground until he passed away, then withheld his body. Israeli sources claimed that Hamran carried out a shooting attack, which resulted in the injury of two Israeli soldiers, one of them suffering serious injuries.

Palestinian Fakher Bani Jaber, age 40, was also killed Tuesday, shot in the chest by an Israeli colonist, with the protection of the Israeli army.

ILLEGAL SETTLERS WITH “LEGAL” GUNS – Al Jazeera reports: Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has announced approving 100,000 new gun licences since Hamas’s attacks on October 7.

“This week, we reached a milestone at the National Security Ministry: The 100,000th citizen received their firearms license,” Ben-Gvir said at the Israeli parliament, according to The Times of Israel. He made the announcement standing in front of a poster with an image of a handgun and the slogan “100K Israelis armed”.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor (C) speaks to press members following the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling for Gaza in Lahey, Netherlands on January 26, 2024.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor (C) speaks to press members following the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling for Gaza in Lahey, Netherlands on January 26, 2024. (photo)

SOUTH AFRICA SPEAKS FRANKLY – Middle East Monitor reports: South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor accused Israel Tuesday of setting a precedent in defying the decisions of the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the UN also known as the World Court.

Pandor pointed out that Israel has defied the ICJ’s January ruling which ordered the occupation state to do everything in its power to prevent genocide. Earlier this month, Pretoria asked the ICJ to impose “provisional measures” to put an end to the “widespread starvation” occurring as a result of Israel’s military attack in Gaza.

“The provisional measures have been entirely ignored by Israel,” she warned. “We’re seeing mass starvation now and famine before our very eyes. I think we, as humanity, need to look at ourselves in horror and dismay and to be really worried that we have set an example.”

The minister noted that Israel’s actions may be interpreted by other nations that they have a license to do what they want and will not be stopped.

More news:

The Guardian: Jared Kushner says Gaza’s ‘waterfront property could be very valuable’
Al Jazeera: How Israeli settlers are expanding illegal outposts amid Gaza war
Al Jazeera: What will become of Gaza’s orphaned generation? – VIDEO
Electronic Intifada: British lawyer heading ICC’s Palestine probe can’t be seen as neutral
Palestine Chronicle: “FBI Interrogating Our Community” – CAIR Raises Concern for Muslims in the US
Palestine Chronicle: “On the Brink of Death” – WHO Warns Newborn Babies in Gaza are Dying
+972 Magazine: The First Step Toward Disintegrating Israel’s Settler Machine
Middle East Monitor: US to block UNRWA funding until March 2025
Middle East Eye: Unrwa staff ‘harassed and obstructed’ by Israel in West Bank
Middle East Eye: US finalizing F-35 sale to Israel as tensions over Gaza war plan boil


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Palestinian death toll from October 7 – March 18: at least 32,254* (31,819 in Gaza* (72% women and children), and at least 435 in the West Bank (116 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 40,042 Palestinian deaths.

At least 41 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank)

At least 31 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition**

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

About 2.2 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Crisis, Emergency, or Famine levels of food insecurity.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – March 18: at least 78,624 (including at least 73,934 in Gaza and 4,690 in the West Bank).

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – March 18: ~1,403 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 251 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 15 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.

*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.

**Euro-Med Monitor reports that Gaza’s elderly are dying at an alarmingly high rate. The majority die at home and are buried either close to their residences or in makeshift graves dispersed across the Strip. There are currently more than 140 such cemeteries. Additionally, according to Euromed, thousands have died from starvation, malnourishment, and inadequate medical care; these are considered indirect victims as they were not registered in hospitals. 

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

For more news, go here and hereBroadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

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