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Hunger as a Strategy of War?


Translated from a YNET article


The UN warns that one million Palestinians may face severe hunger, but Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University professors have reviewed COGAT data and found that the nutritional aid entering Gaza meets international standards. According to the researchers, the data, which refutes claims of hunger, show a 53% increase in the amount of food brought into Gaza.

A new study by researchers from Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University, based on data regarding goods transferred from Israel to Gaza, shows that the humanitarian food aid delivered to Gaza's residents through Israel meets and even surpasses international standards.

The research findings, based on data from aid transfers between January and April 2024, contradict the deep concern expressed by the international community about a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza that could lead to starvation. Numerous claims have been made against Israel for blocking food trucks destined for Gaza. Just yesterday, the UN stated that one million Palestinians might face severe hunger by the middle of next month if the fighting continues. A report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN indicated that the situation in Gaza is worsening due to restrictions on aid and the collapse of the food system over the past eight months.

The study, conducted by Prof. Aharon Troen from the School of Nutritional Sciences at Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Prof. Dorit Nitzan from the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University, along with other partners, refutes these claims of hunger and severe humanitarian crisis. According to the findings, Israel adhered to international food aid standards during the war period.

Among other things, the findings show that from January to April this year, there was a continuous 53% increase in the amount of food brought into Gaza. Additionally, it was found that the nutritional aid delivered to Gaza from Israel met the nutritional security requirements per person, as determined by the "Sphere Standards," the internationally recognized standard for food security in war-affected populations.

The Findings:

  • Aid Amount: The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) allowed the entry of 14,916 trucks carrying 227,854 tons of food into Gaza. This averages 3,729 food trucks per month - 124 trucks per day.

  • Increase in Shipments: The weight of food shipments to Gaza increased by 57% during the four-month research period, comparing the weight measured in January to that measured in April. Significant increases were recorded in specific food groups such as nuts and seeds (1,435% increase), fruits (2,851%), vegetables (2,657%), dairy products and eggs (934%), potatoes (662%), and poultry, fish, and meat (97%).

  • Nutritional Content: The average daily nutritional availability per person was 3,374 calories, 101 g of protein (12.1% of energy), 80.6 g of fat (21.5% of energy), and 25.2 mg of iron. These data meet the "Sphere" standards and daily nutritional intake recommendations for the population's needs.

Research Method: The research was based on nutritional aid data transferred to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom and Nitzana crossings and airdropped between January and April, as provided by COGAT in the IDF. The researchers categorized all food items, quantified them, and examined the nutritional composition of each product based on food composition databases. They then calculated the total amount of energy (calories), protein (g), fat (g), and iron (mg) in the products of all shipments. They divided the data by the exact number of Gaza residents, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Gaza. Finally, the researchers compared the average daily supply per person to the standard set in the "Sphere Standards" and the recommended supply amount according to Gaza's population data.

Prof. Dorit Nitzan from Ben-Gurion University noted that "despite these findings, it is essential to continue examining the distribution of food among the population and its access to aid resources. It is crucial that this important work continues to be guided by reliable and transparent data to ensure adequate nutritional assistance and maintain the health of Gaza's residents." Prof. Aharon Troen explained that "the best way to ensure citizens' nutrition and address claims against Israel is through facts and reliable data. Our findings clearly show that Israel is fulfilling its commitment to enable adequate nutritional aid transfer to Gaza's population during the emergency period."

Prof. Troen concluded: "Our research findings emphasize the importance of using evidence-based information and empirical data instead of unfounded accusations to ensure the success of humanitarian efforts, especially in sensitive conflict areas. Ongoing monitoring of developments on the ground is essential so that all humanitarian actors continue to provide and distribute the necessary aid to the population."

Original Article: Here

Photo: Food distribution in the Strip (Photo: Eyad BABA / AFP)

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