Crimes Against Humanity in Gaza

Among the many brutalities in war prohibited under international humanitarian law are starvation of civilian populations and deliberate attacks on aid workers. Here are some new findings worth considering as we ponder the continued decline of human security in the Gaza fighting.


By now we are all familiar with the appalling food situation in all parts of Gaza. Now, a multi-party global initiative known for short as the IPC – which stands for Integrated Food Security Phase Classification – has documented and closely analyzed the matter.

Half the Gaza population, 1.1 million people, now face “catastrophic food insecurity.” Unless a cease-fire can be agreed upon, by July just about the entire population will be in that condition. Moreover, “Famine is imminent in the northern governorates and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.”

The report further notes:

“The famine threshold for household acute food insecurity has already been far exceeded and, given the latest data showing a steeply increasing trend in cases of acute malnutrition, it is highly likely that the famine threshold for acute malnutrition has also been exceeded.”

Delivery of food and other basic necessities is a major cause of the famine.

“From a pre-escalation average of 500 trucks a day of which 150 carrying food, in the period between 7 October 2023 to 24 February 2024, only 90 trucks per day, of which only 60 carrying food, entered the Gaza Strip. Consequently, virtually all households are skipping meals every day and adults are reducing their meals so that children can eat. In the northern governorates, in nearly two thirds of the households, people went entire days and nights without eating at least 10 times in the last 30 days. In the southern governorates, this applies to one third of the households.”

We need to remember just how destitute the Gaza Strip was before the war. The IPC report reminds us:

“In 2022, the Gaza Strip faced an unemployment rate of nearly 45 percent1 and, by September 2023, the poverty rate was at 60 percent2, among a population that included nearly 70 percent of refugees. Due to severely constrained livelihood opportunities, in 2022, over half of the population was relying on humanitarian assistance as their main income source and about one-third on casual labour, with 70 percent of the population food insecure.”

As I noted in a podcast on opinion polling of Palestinians, many believe the war had finally focused international attention on Gaza’s desperate conditions.

The Vulnerability of Aid Workers

Adding to the food insecurity in Gaza is the perilous conditions for humanitarian relief workers. That was brought home with the death of seven members of the World Central Kitchen in an Israeli raid that the Israeli Defense Forces has called a “tragic mistake,” but which WCK’s Chef José Andrés has called Israel’s “war against humanity itself.”

Prior to that attack, 196 aid workers had been killed in the war between last October and late March. That’s an astounding figure when, according to a group that tracks humanitarian assistance projects, no aid workers had been killed in all the Occupied Territories in the three previous years. Nor has any conflict zone ever experienced so many deaths of aid workers.

The unprecedented number of aid worker deaths in Gaza has raised accusations that relief organizations are being deliberated targeted. As one writer puts it:

“Israeli forces have targeted healthcare facilities, aid convoys, and ambulances with apparent impunity. Aid groups say they have shared the GPS coordinates of their facilities and convoys with Israeli authorities to avoid unintentional bombing – a strategy known as deconfliction – but aid facilities continue to be hit. ‘There is complete disregard for the norms of modern warfare,’ said Bob Kitchen, vice president for emergencies and humanitarian action at the International Rescue Committee.”

Now, according to a report in The New Humanitarian, Israel has set up a separate, privately contracted aid system that it can protect and control, avoiding reliance on the UN’s relief organization as well as on NGOs.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.

One thought on “Crimes Against Humanity in Gaza”

  1. “no aid workers had been killed in all the Occupied Territories in the three previous years.”

    See how quickly Israel has “normalized” killing aid workers? We’re surprised because Israel has “only” been killing aid workers in lower numbers more sporadically than currently.

    In another year, we’ll be surprised that Israel “only” killed another hundred or so in one year.

    And we don’t even mention the Palestinians the Zionists HAVE been killing EVERY year for the last EIGHTY+ years. (This didn’t start even in 1948.)

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