As part of its broad campaign against the Gaza Strip, Bombed The Israeli occupation forces recently opened Al-Salam Mills in Deir Al-Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The bombing resulted in the destruction of flour and wheat silos, which led to the mill being out of service. They then caused major damage to Khan Yunis Mills, the largest flour warehouse in Gaza, which exacerbated the food and humanitarian crisis. It is noteworthy that Al Salam Mills is a limited joint stock company, and the idea of its establishment dates back to the year 2000 with the aim of providing flour to the sector and dispensing with Israel. The mills began actual production in 2002 with a production capacity of 120 tons/24 hours, before it was developed and the production capacity reached 400 tons at the present time ( 1) (2).
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor announced on November 5 that obtaining bread in the Gaza Strip has become a serious challenge, and that mills in Gaza are unable to grind wheat due to the lack of fuel and electricity. The Observatory indicated that the occupation has bombed and destroyed 11 bakeries since October 7, while residents queue for long hours in front of the remaining bakeries and are exposed to air strikes in order to obtain a few loaves of bread.
The Observatory also states that the occupation allowed only about 2% of aid and food supplies to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, while it deliberately bombs water wells and tanks, including the Tal al-Zaatar well and tank in the northern Gaza Strip, which feed more than 70,000 people in the Strip. The Observatory warns of the approaching large-scale famine in Gaza with the continuation of the Israeli war of starvation, which includes the destruction of the agricultural area east of Gaza and fishermen’s boats, as well as attacking relief organizations’ supply centers (3).
Long-term hunger policy
The policy of starvation and destruction of agricultural lands is not considered something new in the customs of the occupying state. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza states that the occupation destroyed approximately 13,500 dunums of agricultural land (more than 3,000 acres), from the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 until July 2001 (in only about 9 months), which represents 7 % of the total agricultural area at that time in sector (4).
Reports indicate that occupation aircraft regularly and systematically sprayed Palestinian lands with toxic pesticides, at least twice a year, usually during the month of December to destroy winter crops, and then in April to destroy summer crops (6). Which led to the destruction of 14 thousand dunams between the years 2014-2018. Reports also monitor the impact of these pesticides on the health of farmers, who are suffering from chest and skin diseases, as well as the death of poultry and livestock following aerial spraying operations.
For example, in March 2022, over the course of four (5) days, Israeli crop spraying planes dropped herbicides in areas adjacent to the fence extending from Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip to Rafah in the south, after confirming the plumes of black smoke that are usually used before the spraying process to determine The direction of the wind means that the wind will carry these pesticides west to the farmers’ lands in Gaza, while one of the farmers explained that the planes immediately stop carrying out aerial spraying operations when the wind changes its direction to the east.
Likewise, the occupation used to flood agricultural lands in Gaza by opening rainwater “ferries” behind the border strip east of the cities of Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah in the south and center of the Strip, which is repeated seasonally in the winter (7). While a study supervised by the Institute of Water and Environment at Al-Azhar University in Gaza (8) states that the excessive use of ammunition during the bombing of the Strip in July 2014 (which amounted to 36 thousand tons of shells) caused 7,473 holes in agricultural areas, as indicated by the analysis of samples. For agricultural soil, the missiles caused an increase in the proportion of heavy metals, such as chromium, cadmium, nickel, cobalt, and copper, which are metals that move from the soil to crops and then to humans and lead to a large number of health damages, most notably kidney and liver damage, osteoporosis, nervous system diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Children are more affected by poisoning with these metals.
Calorie reduction policy
“How does one man exercise power over another man, Winston?” Winston replied, “By making him suffer, by making him suffer.”
George Orwell – 1984 novel
In addition to the deliberate destruction of Palestinian agricultural lands that causes a shortage of resources, the spread of diseases, and the spread of malnutrition among the population (which the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory estimates has reached 90% among the people of Gaza), one of the main goals of destroying lands is represented by the occupation’s desire to maintain dominance. On land and resources (9). According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch, the Israeli authorities seek to monopolize control over lands and natural resources simultaneously with demographic control. The report demonstrates this through the pledges of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1985 (who was then Minister of Defense). ) who pledged that “there will be no development for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, and no permits will be given to expand agricultural or industrial activities there.”
In addition to the occupation’s long history of destroying agricultural lands, one of the documents of the Israeli Ministry of Defense published pursuant to court decision (10) indicates that the occupation army conducted accurate calculations to determine the daily calorie needs of the residents of Gaza during its siege of the Palestinian territories between the years 2007-2010, and it was This is for the purpose of restricting food quantities and limiting food supplies to put pressure on Hamas. One of the American diplomatic cables sent during the siege, revealed by WikiLeaks in 2012, indicates that Israeli diplomats informed their counterparts in America that “they want to keep the Gaza economy on the brink of collapse.”
America…the opponent and the ruler at the same time!
International humanitarian law prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Article 14 of the Second Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of Conflict also condemns it, stipulating that “it is prohibited to attack, destroy or disable items indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas and drinking water installations.” In May 2018, the Security Council issued a resolution condemning the use of starvation of civilians as a method of combat, and noted that international humanitarian law prohibits denial of humanitarian access and deprivation of civilians of things indispensable to their survival, including intentionally obstructing relief supplies. In situations of armed conflict (11).
The Security Council reaffirmed these matters again in a statement dated August 3, 2023, while the US State Department announced on its official website that the statement is “the fruit of American efforts.” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken commented on this by saying: “This Council is responsible.” about maintaining international peace and security, and we cannot maintain peace and security without enhancing food security” (12). At the same time, America ignores the starvation that the occupying state is doing against the Palestinian people. It should be noted that starvation is an American policy that has its roots in the Francis Lieber Law, known as “regulating the behavior of Union soldiers in the civil war,” which allowed Union soldiers to starve combatants. Hostiles, both armed and civilian, during the American Civil War (13).
The Lieber Law is the first written document inciting the use of starvation during conflicts. The Red Cross (14) points out that a careful reading of the Lieber Code confirms that the laws and customs of war in that period did not include any rules to protect people subject to the enemy’s authority, especially prisoners of war and residents of occupied territories.
Lieber is considered one of the most prominent theorists who established the idea of harming civilians in order to end war. Lieber’s theories are based on the idea that “it is moral to use brutal means to end a just war.” In 1863, the US War Department sought his help in drafting a code of conduct for soldiers, which was later known as the Lieber Code. The current version of the US Department of Defense’s Law of War Manual still praises Lieber’s Law, describing it as “the fundamental law of war document of the United States,” although it acknowledges that “parts of it no longer reflect current law.”
1) A humanitarian tragedy is worsening… War, famine, and epidemics converge on Gaza.
2) Al-Salam Mills Company, Deir Al-Balah, Gaza.
3) Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor report, November 5, 2023.
4) The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories “B’Tselem”, February 2002.
5) The Cradle March 2022.
6) Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, April 2020.
7) Palestinian News and Information Agency, December 2022.
8) Soil and Rubble Pollution with Heavy Metals in the Gaza strip, Emad Ali, Institute of water and environment.
9) Human Rights Organization report, April 2021.
10) The Gurdian, Oct. 2012.
11) UN Security Council presidential statement on famine and global food insecurity resulting from conflict, May 2018.
12) U.S Department of State, Aug. 2023.
13) Lieber’s Law (page 8).
14) International Committee of the Red Cross 1997.