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U.N. experts conclude famine has spread throughout the Gaza Strip

Children's deaths from malnutrition and dehydration show that critical health and social structures have collapsed.

Red Crescent volunteers distribute food to displaced Palestinians in shelter camps.
Red Crescent volunteers distribute food to displaced Palestinians in shelter camps. (AN/PRCS)

GENEVA (AN) —  The entire Gaza Strip is in the grip of famine based on the recent deaths of more Palestinian children from hunger and malnutrition, U.N. experts say.

“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," 11 human rights experts who report to the U.N. Human Rights Council said on Tuesday.

The U.N. has not formally declared a famine in Gaza. An international entity known as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC, an offshoot of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said in May that famine was projected to occur in northern Gaza.

The U.N. experts, including the special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, said the deaths of two children, aged two months old and 10, confirmed that famine had struck northern Gaza earlier this year.

Children's deaths a key indicator

The experts pointed to the more recent deaths of three children, aged six months old, nine and 13, from malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of access to adequate health care, as evidence that famine has spread to the rest of the Gaza Strip. Two of the children died in a hospital, and the other died in a tent with his displaced family.

“When the first child dies from malnutrition and dehydration, it becomes irrefutable that famine has taken hold” because it shows that health and social structures have collapsed, the experts said.

"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," they concluded, pointing to 34 Palestinian deaths from malnutrition, most of them children, since the deadly Oct. 7th attack on Israel by Hamas and Israel’s devastating military reponse.

Israeli diplomats have strongly denied charges of genocide or the use of food as a weapon of war.

Famine exists when three conditions exist: At least 20% of the population faces extreme levels of hunger; 30% of the children are too thin for their height; and the death rate doubles from the average, exceeding two deaths a day for every 10,000 adults and four deaths a day for every 10,000 children.