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Displaced Palestinian children sit in front of a tent used as temporary shelter in Deir Al Balah in the central Gaza Strip on July 7, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

GENEVA: UN rights experts on Tuesday accused Israel of carrying out a “targeted starvation campaign” that has resulted in the deaths of children in Gaza.

“We declare that Israel’s intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza,” 10 independent United Nations experts said in a statement.

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The UN has not officially declared a famine in the Gaza Strip.

But the experts, including the UN special rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri, insisted there was no denying famine was under way.

“Thirty-four Palestinians have died from malnutrition since 7 October, the majority being children,” said the experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, but who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

Their statement was immediately slammed by Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva, which charged that “Mr. Fakhri, and many so-called ‘experts’ who joined his statement, are as much accustomed to spreading misinformation, as they are to supporting Hamas propaganda and shielding the terrorist organisation from scrutiny”.

The UN experts meanwhile listed three children who had recently died “from malnutrition”, after a number of others were said to have starved to death in northern Gaza earlier this year.

“Fayez Ataya, who was barely six months old, died on 30 May 2024, and 13-year-old Abdul Qader Al Serhi died on June 1, 2024 at the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah,” they said.

Image Credit: AFP

Nine-year-old Ahmad Abu Reida died just two days later “in the tent sheltering his displaced family in Al Mawasi, Khan Younis”, they said.

“With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza,” they said.

Image Credit: AFP

The experts decried that the world had not done more to avert this disaster.

“When a two-month-old baby and 10-year-old Yazan Al Kafarneh died of hunger on 24 February and 4 March respectively, this confirmed that famine had struck northern Gaza,” they said.

“The whole world should have intervened earlier to stop Israel’s genocidal starvation campaign and prevented these deaths.”

Image Credit: AFP

“Inaction is complicity.”

Gaza has been facing a deep humanitarian crisis since the war erupted following Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

In response, Israel has carried out a military offensive that has killed at least 38,243 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

The UN has been warning for months of a looming famine in Gaza, especially in the north, but one has not been officially declared.

The Israeli mission highlighted Tuesday that the latest assessment by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) partnership determined that famine had not materialised after aid access improved somewhat.

“Israel has continuously scaled up its coordination and assistance in the delivery of humanitarian aid across the Gaza Strip,” it said, claiming Hamas “intentionally steal and hide aid from civilians”.