Israel expels UN rapporteur as it’s accused of causing ‘near-famine’

  • Post last modified:February 12, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Israel has caused the population of the Gaza Strip to suffer “unprecedented” levels of “near famine-like conditions”, the UN’s agriculture agency said Monday 12 February – just as Israel banned the UN special rapporteur on Palestine for her comments over the Hamas 7 October insurgency.

Gaza: near-famine levels of food insecurity thanks to Israel

Some 550,000 people are now likely facing catastrophic food insecurity levels, while the whole population is in crisis mode, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol said:

There are unprecedented levels of acute food insecurity, hunger, and near famine-like conditions in Gaza… We are seeing more and more people essentially on the brink of and moving into famine-like conditions every day.

All 2.2 million people in Gaza are in the top three hunger categories, from level three, which is considered an emergency, to level five, or catastrophe, she said. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) rates hunger levels from one to five. Bechdol also noted that:

At this stage, probably about 25 percent of that 2.2 million are in that top-level IPC five category.

Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 28,340 people, mostly women and children.

“Virtually destroyed”

Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, has become a last refuge for fleeing civilians. Many are sleeping outside in tents and makeshift shelters amid mounting concern about lack of food, water and sanitation during an Israeli siege.

Bechdol said that before Israel’s onslaught, the people of Gaza had:

a self-sustaining fruit and vegetable production sector, populated with greenhouses, while there was also a robust backyard small-scale livestock production sector.

We’ve recognised from our damage assessments that most of these animal inventories, but also the infrastructure that is needed for that kind of specialty crop production, are virtually destroyed.

Meanwhile, also on 12 February Israel announced a visa ban on the UN special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories over recent comments denying Hamas’s 7 October attack was “antisemitic”.

Israel UN: expelling experts

The UN-appointed independent expert, Francesca Albanese, last week said she disagreed with French President Emmanuel Macron’s description of the attack:

Albanese said in French:

No… The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Jewishness but in response to Israeli oppression.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel called her online remark “outrageous” and said in a statement she was now “denied entry to the State of Israel”. The immigration authorities had been instructed not to issue Albanese a visa, they added, also calling for her dismissal.

Israel’s ties with several UN bodies and representatives have soured since the start of its onslaught on Gaza.

The ministers said in their statement that:

if the UN wants to return to being a relevant body, its leaders must publicly disavow the antisemitic words of the ‘special envoy’ – and fire her immediately.

“I refuse to be intimidated”

Albanese responded by saying:

I refuse to be intimidated by those complicit in the perpetuation of the Nakba…

Albanese has previously said she was “disappointed” that the response to Macron’s comments had been interpreted as her “justifying” the Hamas attack, pointing out that she had condemned it several times.

“Explaining these crimes as antisemitism obscures their true cause,” she has said, calling antisemitism a “global threat”:

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

Featured image via TRT World – YouTube and Al Jazeera English – YouTube

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