Sunday 21 July 2024
UN rights chief:

Israel's use of starvation as weapon could amount to war crime

The humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip is turning into a man-made famine, the United Nations human rights chief has said, adding that Israel’s use of starvation as a weapon could amount to a “war crime.”


The UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, in an interview with BBC on Thursday said that Israel is culpable for its role in the war as there was a "plausible" case that it was using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.


Turk said that evidence had emerged that Israel was slowing down or withholding the delivery of aid, adding that if proven, it would amount to a war crime.


"When you put all kinds of requirements on the table that are unreasonable in an emergency… that brings up the question, with all the restrictions that we currently see, whether there is a plausible claim to be made that starvation is, or may be used as, a weapon of war," Turk said.


Israel's economy minister, Nir Barkat, a prominent figure in Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, has strongly criticized the UN rights chief's warnings, labeling them as "total nonsense - a totally irresponsible thing to say."


Barkat repeated false claim by Netanyahu's cabinet that Israel was letting in all the aid offered by the US and the rest of the world, blaming the UN for failing to distribute them properly.


This is while evidence indicates another reality as a long line of lorries fully loaded with aid supplies for the Gaza Strip is backing up on the Egyptian border with Rafah, facing a complex and bureaucratic series of checks to enter the strip, ultimately requiring them to enter through Israel.


The delay in delivering the much-needed aid is exacerbating the already dire situation in Gaza.


Several countries, including the United States, France, and Jordan, have been airdropping aid into northern Gaza, where land deliveries have effectively been blocked. None of that would be necessary if Israel granted full road access to Gaza and expedited the delivery of relief supplies through nearby ports.


Gaza officials have condemned such operations and called for an immediate end to the airdrop landings as repeated casualties resulting from the unsafe dropping of aid from aircraft or during unsecured entry of aid trucks into northern Gaza have been reported.


Barkat further said that Israel will finish the war, not allowing anything to get in the way of it, adding that "we expect the world to help us fight evil until we finish Hamas off the map."


Turk responded to the comments by saying that "the human rights situation is so tragic that an immediate ceasefire is required."


"The only thing I can say to them is that there is an emerging international consensus, and it may not have been there before, but it is clearly there now, including with this week's Security Council resolution, on the humanitarian situation," UN human rights chief added.


Zionist regime has ignored a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.


After months of warnings, a recent UN-backed report offered hard statistical evidence that the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is turning into a man-made famine.


“The extent of Israel’s continued restrictions on entry of aid into Gaza, together with the manner in which it continues to conduct hostilities, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said on March 19.


Across the entire Gaza Strip, the number of people facing catastrophic hunger has risen to 1.1 million, half the population, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.


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