‘Man-made famine’ charge against Israel is backed by mounting body of evidence

‘Man-made famine’ charge against Israel is backed by mounting body of evidence

Peter Beaumont writes:

The accusation by the UN and other humanitarians that Israel may be committing a war crime by deliberately starving Gaza’s population is likely to significantly increase the prospect of legal culpability for the country, including at the international court of justice.

Amid reports that the Israel Defense Forces are hiring dozens of lawyers to defend against anticipated cases and legal challenges, the charge that Israel has triggered a “man-made famine” by deliberately obstructing the entry of aid into Gaza is backed by an increasing body of evidence.

Already facing a complaint of genocide from South Africa at the ICJ, the UN’s top court – including an allegation that senior Israeli political officials have incited genocide in public statements – Israel is also the subject of a provisional emergency ruling by the court ordering it to admit life-saving aid to Gaza.

On Wednesday, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, underlined the growing sense of crisis as he warned that all of Gaza’s 2 million people were experiencing “severe levels of acute food insecurity” – the first time an entire population of Gaza has been so classified.

Unlike other issues related to Israel’s conduct in its war against Hamas in Gaza, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives and displaced more than 85% of the population amid widespread destruction, the human-made famine occurring in the Palestinian territory appears more straightforward.

While the question of civilian casualties from specific attacks and from the wider policy of bombing will need to be tested against highly contested notions in international humanitarian law such as proportionality and necessity in conflict, the war crime of starvation is simply and clearly defined.

Though Israel denies the allegation, the Rome statute of the international criminal court defines it as the crime of intentionally starving civilians by “depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival” including “wilfully impeding relief supplies”. [Continue reading…]

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