2024March 2024Israel-HamasWorldOpinion

PR Aid Stunts Are No Substitute for a Ceasefire in Gaza

Hamzah Khan

Managing Editor

Embed from Getty Images

As we approach the sixth month of Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, the looming threat of a man-made famine can be added to the list of atrocities committed against the Palestinian people since last October. According to Reuters, the Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC), a UN-backed global hunger monitor, shows that severe food shortages in Northern Gaza have well exceeded famine levels, with 70 percent of people experiencing acute food insecurity. The report warned that mass deaths related to malnutrition were imminent unless substantial actions were taken to increase aid flow into Northern Gaza. According to the Associated Press, at least 20 people have already died in Gaza due to starvation and malnutrition, the majority of whom were children. 

On March 7, President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address that the U.S. would build a temporary port off the coast of Gaza to bring in more humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave, reports ABC News. A measure like this without also adding increased pressure on the Israeli government to allow aid into Gaza, however, is nothing more than a PR stunt. The port faces massive operational, logistical, and security hurdles and will take weeks, if not months, to be fully operational, reports The New York Times.

This costly and inadequate solution is nothing more than a humiliation for President Biden, whose calls for increasing humanitarian aid have been flatly ignored by the Netanyahu administration in Israel. According to Al Jazeera, human rights groups have accused Israel of deliberately blocking aid from entering Gaza, despite international outcry.  The U.S. has also resorted to airdropping aid, a drastic measure that many countries have undertaken because Israel continues to actively obstruct aid convoys from entering Gaza. While the Biden Administration has boasted its airdrop efforts, earlier this month an airdrop killed at least five Palestinians after the parachute malfunctioned, reports CNN

For a population to go from relatively food secure to experiencing famine in such a short period of time is nothing short of a war crime, an assessment that many UN officials have agreed to according to The Guardian. EU Foreign Policy Chief Joseph Borrell has consistently reiterated that this famine is not the result of a natural disaster but an engineered policy of collective punishment by the Israeli government, saying that “starvation is used as a weapon of war. Israel is provoking famine,” according to Reuters. In instances where aid has been let through, Israeli forces have fired on multiple aid convoys and massacred people seeking aid, most notably during the ‘flour massacre’ on February 29 when 118 people were killed and more than 500 injured while waiting to get food from an aid convoy, reports Al Jazeera

In terms of numbers alone, the war on Gaza has seen at least 31,000 people killed, including 13,000 children. In addition, there have been 80,000 Gazans injured and 2 million displaced, 70 percent of infrastructure including residential buildings and hospitals has been destroyed or damaged, and 1 million Gazans are on the brink of starvation, reports Al Jazeera

Despite the horrific attack Israel suffered on October 7 in which roughly 1,100 people were killed and over 200 taken hostage, nothing can justify the level of carnage we are witnessing in Israel’s war against a population that is 50 percent children. It is also important to note that even before October 7, Palestinians have continuously suffered 75 years of ethnic cleansing, dispossession, occupation, and Apartheid.

If President Biden truly cares about getting aid to Gaza, the U.S. must end its complicity in what the International Court of Justice has described as plausibly amounting to genocide, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  Shamefully, on the same day that the ICJ released its ruling, the U.S. and multiple other countries cut funding to UNRWA, the largest UN organization that delivers humanitarian aid to Palestinians, based on accusations from the Israeli government about UNRWA complicity with Hamas without any corroborating evidence, reports the Associated Press.  

The U.S. has significant leverage over Israel as one of its largest suppliers of military aid and can thus be a vital force to end the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. The U.S. must take measures such as conditioning military support to Israel on allowing aid into Gaza, restore funding to UNRWA as many countries have already done, support a permanent ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council, and demand Israel end illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. As long as these simple measures are not taken, no amount of PR stunts through airdrops and port construction will meaningfully help the people of Gaza. According to Amnesty International, a lasting ceasefire and increased crossings of aid into Gaza by land through Israel and Egypt are the most effective ways to end the nightmare in Gaza. As the specter of famine looms over Gaza, President Biden’s inaction in the face of these horrors will echo throughout history. 

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This