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In Gaza’s north, a full-blown famine is imminent. 

Image by Shareef Sarhan/United Nations, via Flickr

Image by Shareef Sarhan/United Nations, via Flickr

North Gaza is rapidly sliding into a state of full-blown famine.

According to a U.N.-backed report published on Monday, famine will hit Gaza’s northern governorates between now and May. 

Today, one-third of children under the age of two in Gaza’s north are suffering from acute malnutrition, more than double the number from a month ago. At least 23 children have already died of starvation and dehydration to date. 

Half of Gaza’s entire population — over a million people — are facing starvation. And though conditions are worse right now in the north, Gaza’s southern governorates could also slide into full-blown famine by July. 

This is a man-made famine. The Israeli military has deliberately blocked the entrance of humanitarian aid to the north, attacked aid convoys, and gunned down starving people as they tried to collect what little aid has managed to reach them. 

“We scream, starve, and die alone,”  22-year-old Said Sweirki told +972 mag. “Does the world know that we’re eating animal food? We live without the basic necessities of life: no electricity, no water, no fuel”

Meanwhile, Israeli civilians have gathered at border crossings in the hundreds to block aid convoys headed for Gaza. Holding signs that read “No aid for the enemy” and waving Israeli flags, their lawn chairs and stroller-aged children in tow, they queued for cotton candy and mingled in a carnival-like atmosphere

Just a few hours north, Palestinian children starved to death.

*Are* there red lines for Biden?

Biden publicly called an invasion of Rafah a “red line.” But with no consequences attached, it’s unclear if this was more serious than the President “thinking out loud.” 

Further, the administration is undermining this shift in rhetoric by continuing to arm Israel’s genocidal military. Over the last months, the Biden administration has shipped weapons to Israel, on average, every 36 hours.

Israel isn’t going forward with a ground operation in Rafah — right now. But not because of any meaningful pressure from the Biden administration. Israel has had to release significant numbers of reserve soldiers, to help bolster an economy buckling under the weight of a genocidal onslaught. It would take the Israeli military weeks to reallocate enough soldiers to conduct a ground invasion of Rafah.  

Per U.S. law, the U.S. government is prohibited from providing security assistance to countries that block U.S. aid, which is exactly what the Israeli government is doing. The Biden administration is facing unrelenting pressure from the Palestine solidarity movement to stop arming the Israeli military, and it has legal precedent to end this funding. Instead, it’s conducting expensive and inefficient aid airdrops and barreling forward with the construction of a floating port off Gaza’s coast, which would involve hundreds of U.S. soldiers and take up to two months to complete. 

In private, Biden has given the Israeli military the green light to conduct targeted, counter-terror style operations in Rafah, now the most densely populated place on earth.

In another telling incident, the Israeli military assassinated the commander of Gaza’s civilian police, who recently coordinated the distribution of a shipment of flour in Gaza’s starving north, mere days after the Biden administration warned the Israeli government to stop targeting locals tasked with ensuring the safe passage of aid trucks. He was killed while the Israeli military once again laid siege to al-Shifa hospital, abducting journalists reporting inside. The journalists were detained by Israeli forces, forced to strip naked, and held handcuffed and blindfolded for 12 hours. 

A real shift in U.S. policy is needed to end this genocide — something that, even after six months of slaughter and devastation, the Biden administration remains wholly unwilling to consider. It’s up to us to hold Biden’s feet to the fire until a permanent and lasting ceasefire is reached.

JVP Rabbis demand a ceasefire in D.C.

Last week, our sister organization Jewish Voice for Peace Action brought 17 rabbis and rabbinical students to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The trip coincided with AIPAC’s lobby day, which was intended to make the case for unyielding support for Israel.

Tell Congress: Reinstate UNRWA funding.

Over a million Palestinians face starvation in Gaza. Yet Democrats and Republicans alike want to continue banning U.S. funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency that serves Palestinians refugees.

Join our sibling organization JVP Action in telling Congress: Reinstate life-saving funding for UNRWA now.

Event: Gaza’s health crisis.

Join the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council this Sunday, March 24 at 1pm ET/10 am PT for a discussion of the catastrophic health crisis in Gaza, featuring Dr. Thaer Ahmad and Dr. John Kahler, who both recently returned from Gaza.

What we’re reading.

Hani Sabra argues that by blaming the rise in anti-Palestinian hatred on Islamophobia, rather than confronting anti-Palestinianism, “liberal American politicians believe they can maintain the balancing act of supporting Israel’s assault on Gaza while appearing to care for their domestic constituencies.”

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