FAMINE: Israeli-Made, Australian-Backed, Utter Colonial Bastardry in Gaza

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Gaza Genocide

The Anglosphere – the AUKUS powers, Canada and New Zealand – rallied around Live Aid in 1985, which was a massive multicontinental rock concert spanning 16 hours that featured the world’s biggest performers and raised money to provide food aid to the mid-1980s Ethiopian famine.

But times have certainly changed and four decades later, these same nations, Australia, the US, the UK and the aforementioned pair have, since January, been rallying around Israel as it commits the war crime of starvation in Gaza, and in perpetuation of this, they’ve cut funding the main aid line in.

The list of nations that cut funding commencing on 27 January, based on unsubstantiated Israeli claims, was much longer than these five countries though, eventually totalling to 16 donor states in whole. But the European nations that had done so announced their resumption of aid on Sunday.

The most concerning aspect to the UNRWA scandal – besides cutting aid to a humanmade mass starvation site – is that the International Court of Justice ruled on 26 January that Israel is committing plausible genocide in Gaza and ordered Tel Aviv to rapidly escalate aid into the area.

Many in the local commentariat, indeed, many at the weekly Gadigal-Sydney rally in support of the Palestinians of Gaza on Sunday, are enraged and are asking why our foreign minister Penny Wong hasn’t resumed funding aid to a genocide and what this means in terms of this nation’s complicity.

Purposefully withdrawn

Key UN aid agency experts told the UN Security Council that a famine was imminent in the north of the Gaza Strip five days ago.

The reports coming out of that part of the 40-odd kilometre-long enclave have been macabre and involved people with sunken eyes, searching for food in rubble and eating grass.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs explained at least 576,000 of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians are now “facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation”. And Algerian UN ambassador Amar Benjama charged Israel with using starvation as a tool of war.

“The ongoing attack on Gaza is not a war against Hamas,” the ambassador made clear, “it is a collective punishment for the Palestinian civilian people. Our silence grants a license to kill and starve… This council must urgently call, demand for a ceasefire as our inaction equals complicity.”

And complicity has certainly become the buzzword of the moment.

Human Rights Watch made the same pronouncement in December. The evidence, HRW said, indicates civilians are deliberately denied access to food and water, that Israeli officials have stated this, which is reflected in military operations, and it should stop attacking objects essential for life.

The rights organisation made certain that starvation is a war crime, which, it reported at the time, consisted of the deliberate blocking of water, food, and fuel, impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving civilians of objects indispensable for survival.

That was on 18 December. Now, five months into a livestreamed genocide, humanmade mass starvation is spilling over into famine, and HRW asserted last week that Israel has failed to act on the ICJ order to take immediate measures to enable the provision of needed basic services and humanitarian aid.

An expression of the general sentiment at the 21st Gadigal-Sydney Ceasefire rally on Sunday
An expression of the general sentiment at the 21st Gadigal-Sydney Ceasefire rally on Sunday

Starved to death

Famine happens when a number of conditions occur. These include 30 percent of an area’s child population being extremely malnourished, which means kids are already dying as their parents can’t feed them, so it’s too late and even if food supply is restored many will continue to die ongoing.

The main factor in the famine underway in the Gaza Strip is the Israeli Defence Forces.

Intentional starvation is outlawed under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, as an international war crime, which can involve the depravation of objects indispensable to survival and the wilful impediment of relief supplies, as reflected in the Geneva Conventions.

The act of starvation is listed as a war crime in rule 156 of customary international humanitarian law, which applies to all nations and derives from “a general practice accepted under law”.

Israel is seriously undermining this international prohibition, with AUKUS backing, and this, as well as the committing of the act of genocide, makes it easier for other nations to repeat such atrocities going into the future.

As the Australian government ratified the Rome Statue on 1 July 2002, the nation then, as required, enacted the international war crime of starvation, under section 268.67 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which has universal jurisdiction, applying to anyone anywhere, and it carries 25 years.

Blood on their hands

The idea of people deprived of food, as in this case Palestinians right now, is visceral. We all understand what it means to have food denied. The images of gaunt starving people evoke an inward horror, and the fact Israel is starving 2.3 million Palestinians to kill them, is horrifying.

Israel is still blocking the majority of aid trucks into Gaza. The US recently dropped food aid into the Strip from the air, however Washington has been and continues to supply most of the imported arms used on the Palestinians in Gaza, and also, in the West Bank, where an escalation is underway.

UNRWA has long provided more than aid to Gaza, as its been operating schools, health clinics and projects.

However, on the day after the ICJ found it is causing plausible genocide, Israel produced a report claiming up to a dozen local UNRWA staff members, out of around 12,000 in Gaza, were involved in the Hamas 7 October attack on Israel. And these claims were unsubstantiated and remain so.

The US cut funding to UNWRA on 26 January, and Australia did so two days later. Wong told the 7.30 Report that she made the decision to cut funding to the site of a plausible genocide, based on the fact that UNRWA took the claims seriously.

And up until this day, and despite the EU determining on Sunday to resume aid into Gaza, this country is yet to do the same.

The messaging from the Pride in Protest contingent at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade last Saturday night was clear
The messaging from the Pride in Protest contingent at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade last Saturday night was clear

The flour massacre

Sentiment expressed at the 21st weekly Gaza Ceasefire rally on Sunday in Hyde Park suggested that Wong’s 1 March statement, regarding Australia being horrified by an all-out massacre upon Palestinians approaching a food aid convoy in northern Gaza on Thursday, was insincere.

The foreign minister further stated that Australia has been upping its aid and calling for a ceasefire. But she forgot to mention that UNRWA remains cut, that she was one of the first ministers to cut it and Labor’s conditional ceasefires are implicitly biased towards Israel to the detriment of Gazans.

The massacre occurred on Thursday on Al-Rashid Street in Gaza City, where the starvation is most acute. People gathering for food trucks were fired upon by Israel Defence Forces on all sides, as they arrived. The firing consisted of two rounds when large numbers of Palestinians were at the trucks.

Al Jazeera reports at least 117 Palestinians were killed in the flour massacre, with more than 750 wounded, which is part of the broader genocide involving a death toll of over 30,000 Palestinians and more than 100,000 residents of Gaza having been either killed or injured by Israel since October.

Special advisor to Israeli PM Benjamin Netayahu, Mark Regev put it to PBS presenter Christine Amanpour on Saturday that his nation was not involved in the massacre, despite the clears ways – supplying the food and trucks, whilst firing on the crowd – she’d listed the IDF as having taken part.

“OK,” the television presenter continued, “but they did open fire and people were killed. So, I’m completely confused by what you’re saying because they admitted, the IDF spokesman said it. Said it on our air, that they opened fire.”

“That’s a separate incident,” the Israeli official gaslit Amanpour in reply.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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