The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that the Gaza Strip’s population is experiencing “unprecedented levels of near famine-like conditions” due to the prolonged Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Approximately 550,000 people are now at risk of catastrophic food insecurity, and the entire population is in a state of crisis, it added.
“There are unprecedented levels of acute food insecurity, hunger, and near famine-like conditions in Gaza,” FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol said in an interview published by the Rome-based agency.
“We are seeing more and more people essentially on the brink of and moving into famine-like conditions every day,” she added.
Every one of the 2.2 million individuals in Gaza falls within the top three hunger categories, ranging from level three, classified as an emergency, to level five, labeled as a catastrophe, according to the statement.
It is worth noting that the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) measures hunger levels on a scale from one to five.
“At this stage, probably about 25 percent of that 2.2 million are in that top-level IPC five category,” Bechdol said.
Before the ongoing Israeli aggression, the people of Gaza had “a self-sustaining fruit and vegetable production sector, populated with greenhouses, while there was also a robust backyard small-scale livestock production sector,” Bechdol said.
“We’ve recognized from our damage assessments that most of these animal inventories, but also the infrastructure that is needed for that kind of specialty crop production, are virtually destroyed,” she stressed.
UN rights chief fears potential ‘carnage’ in Rafah
In a related context, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, cautioned about the possibility of further Israeli atrocities in Gaza as the Israeli military prepares to expand its offensive in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, specifically in Rafah.
A potential full-fledged incursion in Rafah “is terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured,” he said.
“Today, sadly, given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah,” he added.
The military incursion could potentially mark the termination of the limited humanitarian aid reaching Gaza, posing significant consequences, especially for the hundreds of thousands of people in the northern part of the enclave who are in imminent danger of starvation and famine.
“My Office has repeatedly warned against actions that violate the laws of war. The prospect of such an operation into Rafah, as circumstances stand, risks further atrocity crimes,” he tersely stated.
In response to a case initiated by South Africa, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court in the UN, ruled last month that Palestinians have the right to be safeguarded against acts of genocide.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the UN human rights chief called on “Israel” to adhere to the legally binding directives from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to fully abide by international humanitarian law.
The ICJ also called on “Israel” to “take all measures within its power” to prevent such actions and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
On this note, Turk called on holding “Israel” accountable for defying international law, stating, “Those who defy international law have been put on notice. Accountability must follow.”
“The world must not allow this to happen. Those with influence must restrain rather than enable. There must be an immediate ceasefire,” he added.