Skip to content

Starvation as weapon of war being used against Gaza civilians – Oxfam

Oxfam Australia 4 mins read

Just 2 per cent of usual food delivered to Gaza since siege imposed

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war against Gaza civilians, Oxfam said today as it renewed its call for food, water, fuel and other essentials to be allowed to enter.  

The international agency analysed UN data and found that just 2 per cent of food that would have been delivered has entered Gaza since the total siege - which tightened the existing blockade - was imposed on 9 October; following the atrocious attacks by Hamas and the taking of Israeli civilian hostages. While a small amount of food aid has been allowed in, no commercial food imports have been delivered. 

As the escalation of the conflict extends to its 19th day, a staggering 2.2 million people are now in urgent need of food. Prior to the hostilities, 104 trucks a day would deliver food to the besieged Gaza Strip, one truck every 14 minutes. 

Despite 62 trucks of aid being allowed to enter southern Gaza via the Rafah crossing since the weekend, only 30 contained food and in some cases, not exclusively so. This amounts to just one truck every three hours and 12 minutes since Saturday. 

Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Regional Middle East Director said: “The situation is nothing short of horrific - where is humanity? Millions of civilians are being collectively punished in full view of the world, there can be no justification for using starvation as a weapon of war. World leaders cannot continue to sit back and watch, they have an obligation to act and to act now. 

“Every day the situation worsens. Children are experiencing severe trauma from the constant bombardment, their drinking water is polluted or rationed and soon families may not be able to feed them too. How much more are Gazans expected to endure?” 

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare and as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel is bound by IHL obligations to provide for the needs and protection of the population of Gaza. In 2018, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2417, which unanimously condemned the use of starvation against civilians as a method of warfare and declared any denial of humanitarian access a violation of international law. Oxfam said that it is becoming painfully clear that the unfolding humanitarian situation in Gaza squarely fits the prohibition condemned in the resolution. 

Clean water has now virtually run out.  It’s estimated that only three litres of clean water are now available per person – the UN said that a minimum of 15 litres a day is essential for people in the most acute humanitarian emergencies as a bare minimum. Bottled water stocks are running low and the cost of bottled water has already surged beyond the reach of an average Gaza family, with prices spiking fivefold in some places. A spokesperson for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNWRA) pointed out that some of the food aid allowed in - rice and lentils - is useless, because people do not have clean water or fuel to prepare them. 

A series of airstrikes have left several bakeries and supermarkets either destroyed or damaged. Those that are still functional, can’t meet the local demand for fresh bread and are at risk of shutting down due to the shortage of essentials like flour and fuel. Gaza’s only operative wheat mill is redundant due to the power outages. The Palestinian Water Authority says Gaza's water production is now a mere 5 per cent of its normal total, which is expected to reduce further, unless water and sanitation facilities are provided with electricity or fuel to resume its activity. 

Notably, essential food items, like flour, oil and sugar, are still stocked in warehouses that haven’t been destroyed. But as many of them are located in Gaza city, it is proving physically impossible to deliver items due to the lack of fuel, damaged roads and risks from airstrikes.  

The electricity blackout has also disrupted food supplies by affecting refrigeration, crop irrigation, and crop incubation devices.  Over 15,000 farmers have lost their crop production and 10,000 livestock breeders have little access to fodder, with many having lost their animals. Oxfam said that the siege, combined with the airstrikes, has crippled the fishing industry with hundreds of people who rely on fishing losing access to the sea. 

Oxfam is urging the UN Security Council and UN Member States to act immediately to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further. And is calling for an immediate ceasefire, unfettered, equitable access to the entire Gaza Strip for humanitarian aid, and all necessary food, water, medical and fuel supplies for the needs of the population to be met. 

Oxfam ask that the Australian Government call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza. We welcome the funds already pledged and call for an immediate increase, also ask that the Australian Government offers increased humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

You can donate to Oxfam Australia’s Gaza Crisis Appeal here.

Notes to editor 

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data on food deliveries to Gaza prior to the siege can be found here - this includes both humanitarian food aid and imports  

OCHA updates show that a total of 62 trucks of aid have been allowed to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Saturday 21 – Tuesday 24 October.  

Saturday 21 October - 20 trucks entered via Rafah, 5 of which contained food.  

Sunday 22 October - 14 trucks entered via Rafah, 12 of which contained food.

Monday 23 October - 20 trucks entered, 11 of which contained food.

Tuesday 24 October- 8 trucks entered, 2 of which contained food. 

UN Security Council resolution UNSC 2417 – Protection of civilians in armed conflict 

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099/


More from this category

  • CharitiesAidWelfare, Government VIC
  • 17/04/2024
  • 06:51
Council to Homeless Persons

Urgent call for youth homelessness funding after 18 years of neglect

Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) has urged the Victorian Government to tackle the youth homelessness crisis with a comprehensive strategy in the upcoming state budget. As homelessness among young Victorians reaches critical levels, immediate action is needed to provide both housing and support services. CHP CEO Deborah Di Natale said: "The last youth homelessness strategy released 18 years ago is now old enough to vote. "That should be a major wake-up call for the Allan government, which has a huge opportunity to end almost two decades of neglect. "Nearly 16,000 young Victorians found themselves seeking help from homelessness services last…

  • CharitiesAidWelfare, Government VIC
  • 17/04/2024
  • 06:46
Council to Homeless Persons

*** MEDIA ALERT *** Victoria marks 18th ‘birthday’ of last youth homelessness strategy

*** MEDIA ALERT *** What: An 18th ‘birthday’ celebration for the last released youth homelessness strategy with 25-cm cake being cut and singing of happy birthday, with speeches from key youth homelessness figures Who: Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale, Imogen Johnstone, who has lived experience of youth homelessness, and Youth Housing and Homelessness Alliance chair and YACVic CEO Mary Nega When: Wednesday April 17, 12.30pm Where: Melbourne City Mission (Level 1/164-180 Kings Way, South Melbourne, Victoria, 3205Contact details: Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480 /

  • CharitiesAidWelfare, Youth
  • 17/04/2024
  • 00:05
Youth Homelessness Matters Day - YFoundations

8 in 10 people believe no child or young person should be homeless in Australia

A new national poll by Essential Media finds that across Australia and all age groups, 80 percent of people agree that child and youth homelessness is unacceptable and that all levels of government must do more to tackle the issue. Today on Youth Homelessness Matters Day community organisations are joining with young people to urge Federal and State governments to commit to ending child and youth homelessness – to develop a national stand-alone Child & Youth Homelessness Strategy with adequate funding. “Too many children and young people in Australia live in unsafe home environments, couch-surf or sleep rough. Frontline services…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.