Starvation used as a weapon of war in Gaza - ​Tommy Sheppard

Let’s be precise about language. People in Gaza are not starving. They are being starved. This is something that is being done to them.
An airdrop of humanitarian aid over Gaza on March 21An airdrop of humanitarian aid over Gaza on March 21
An airdrop of humanitarian aid over Gaza on March 21

People are already dying, and mass famine is round the corner. Not as a result of a drought, or natural disaster, but because the Israeli government is not allowing food and water to reach the civilian population. Don’t take my word for it. Joseph Borrell, the EU foreign minister, and a man who is very careful with his words, said on Monday: “This is unacceptable. Starvation is used as a weapon of war. Israel is provoking famine.”

Israeli ministers, and their apologists on the right of the Tory party, claim that they cannot allow aid to be delivered because Hamas will siphon it off for their fighters. Even if this were true to some extent, this is still an admission that starvation is being deployed for military purposes. But worse, Israel has extended the use of this tactic to attack the entire civilian population, most of whom are entirely innocent, their only crime to have been born Palestinian.

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International law dictates that Israel as the occupying military power are responsible for the wellbeing of the civilian population. Not only are they refusing to do that, they are stopping other peoples’ aid reaching Palestinians too. This is a war crime squared.

What little aid that does get in has no distribution process in place with UNRWA, the UN agency that could and should do it, neutered by the Israeli military. In consequence people already weak after eating grass and animal feed for weeks, scrabble over each other to fight for scraps. By definition those in most need will lose. It’s inhumane. Grotesque. But the thing that should shame us most is that the UK government does nothing, acquiescence becoming complicity.

I used to have some regard for Alaistair Mitchell, the minister who fronts the government’s foreign policy in the Commons since MPs are not allowed to question Lord Cameron. Not any more. On Tuesday, questioned for nearly two hours, he repeatedly refused to call for a ceasefire, defended weapons sales to Israel, and never once uttered a word of criticism or admonishment of the Netanyahu regime. Shame on him.

Tommy Sheppard MP is SNP Scotland and Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson

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