Reports & Researches

Occupation use of starvation for warfare is a war crime, Witness says A call to Security Council to enforce ICJ decisions of Israel

Occupation use of starvation for warfare is a war crime, Witness says

A call to Security Council to enforce ICJ decisions of Israel


The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) warns of the increasing hunger rates in Gaza after Israeli intensifying blockade on the city as food security crisis exacerbates in middle and southern Gaza in terms of forced Israeli displacement of around one million of the population from Rafah since May 6th.

In Gaza and northern Gaza Strip, 40 children have died due to famine, drought, and malnutrition. Residents are experiencing severe shortages of food and vegetables because of the ongoing Israeli blockade of border crossings, preventing trucks from entering the northern region.

On June 7th, UNICEF reported that 9 out of 10 children in Gaza are suffering from severe food shortages, and malnutrition is increasing the threat of death in the region.

On June 12th, Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, predicted that by mid-July, half of Gaza's population could face death and famine.

(Witness) affirms that since day one of the war, Gaza Strip has been facing a persistent hunger crisis which has escalated due to the closure of Gaza Strip border crossings and the intensified blockade, especially following the control of Rafah crossing on May 7,2024.

There has been a deliberate targeting by occupation forces of essential municipal and healthcare services, including hospitals, undermining their ability to deliver healthcare. This obstruction hampers efforts to combat famine and malnutrition, resulting in a rise in starvation-related deaths.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported a severe breakdown in the food supply chain. Reports highlight extensive damage to agricultural lands, plastic greenhouses, and agricultural structures during April and May.

UN missions have evaluated that hundreds of thousands of displaced people in southern Gaza are facing challenges in accessing shelter, healthcare, water, and sanitation facilities.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that 57 percent of agricultural lands in Gaza have been damaged.

These systematic breaches of the rules of war, particularly the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Protocols, are categorized as war crimes under the Rome Statute, involving individual criminal accountability for investigation and prosecution.

Article 8 of International Criminal Court ICC statute states that "intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies" is a war crime.

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) calls upon the international community, especially the UN Security Council and General Assembly, to compel Israel to end its policy of starvation and to enforce a ceasefire in Gaza. It urges Israel to adhere to the decisions of the International Court of Justice ICJ, which have imposed provisional measures to prevent the crime of genocide, including the provision of necessary humanitarian aid.

(Witness) also urges the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to compel Israel, as an occupying power, to fulfill all its obligations under Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Additionally, it calls for pressure on the occupying state to open the Rafah border crossing and to provide more humanitarian crossings to facilitate the work of international humanitarian organizations in delivering the required quantities of food and medicine to the population in Gaza, especially in Gaza City and its northern areas.



June 22, 2024

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)