War on Gaza: Palestinian child dies of malnutrition as hunger crisis rages

Azzam al-Shaer’s emaciated corpse was captured on video in Gaza the same day the UN warned of high levels of acute food insecurity

MEE staff

Hana Abdelrahaman al-Rai, a four-year-old child suffering from malnutrition and displaced from Gaza City’s eastern suburb of Shujaiya, 4 June 2024 (Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Azzam al-Shaer, a Palestinian child, died on Tuesday from malnutrition in Gaza, making him at least the fifth child to die of hunger in the last week as a result of Israel’s offensive on the besieged enclave.

Al-Shaer, a young Palestinian boy, died at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City after the hospital was unable to obtain medicine to treat him, according to Ismail al-Ghoul, an Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent in the Gaza Strip.

A video posted on X shows Azzam’s small, emaciated corpse lying flat on a table. His cheeks hollowed out and his rib cage protruding. Azzam’s arms are shriveled.

“Azzam al-Shaer died of malnutrition as a result of the ongoing hunger war practised by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza,” al-Ghoul wrote on X.

“This child was deprived of treatment due to the ongoing siege and could not find medicine due to the destruction of hospitals and the health sector,” he said.

Azzam’s death, and the accompanying video, put a face to the UN report published on Tuesday that said that almost the entire population in the Gaza Strip is facing high levels of acute food insecurity or worse, including half a million suffering from starvation.

According to the UN report, which cited the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC): “96 percent of the population – some 2.15 million people – face acute food insecurity at ‘crisis’ level or higher.”

Israel restricting food deliveries

Middle East Eye reported that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip say Israeli authorities are severely restricting life-saving food deliveries after a slight uptick in supplies over previous months, bringing back the extreme conditions experienced in March.

At least four children in Gaza died from malnutrition just last week. 

War on Gaza: Famine threat persists as half a million starving, monitor finds

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For over eight months, the Israeli military has imposed a tight siege on the Gaza Strip, severely limiting the flow of life-saving essential food and medical items. 

The siege has been even tighter on northern Gaza, an area Israel attempted to empty of its more than one million residents at the start of the war in October. 

Along with the relentless bombardments and deliberate targeting of hospitals, and as part of a policy that amounts to collective punishment of civilians, the Israeli military has used starvation of the population as a weapon of war, according to independent UN investigators.

The hunger crisis peaked in March, with dozens of children dying from malnutrition and residents being forced to eat grass, as Israeli forces repeatedly killed aid-seeking people.

Under mounting international pressure, Israel “slightly” improved food access in some areas after its forces killed several foreign aid workers and a UN-backed report warned that famine was imminent

But Israel’s ground invasion of Rafah, in southern Gaza, including its seizure of the Rafah crossing, has choked off the few routes into the enclave for humanitarian aid lorries.

Gaza’s Government Media Office said on Tuesday that no aid has entered the Strip in the last 50 days.

Palestinian child dies of malnutrition in Gaza as hunger crisis rages

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