Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN panel of experts says famine has spread across Gaza


Palestinian children Uday, left, and Mohammed Mahra, both suffering from malnutrition, rest at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on July 9, 2024.
Palestinian children Uday, left, and Mohammed Mahra, both suffering from malnutrition, rest at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on July 9, 2024.

Famine has spread across the Gaza Strip, a panel of United Nations experts in Geneva said in a statement on Tuesday.

The experts pointed to the recent deaths of three children: a 6-month-old, a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old.

"All three children died from malnutrition and lack of access to adequate health care," the panel's statement said. "With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza."

When a child dies from malnutrition and dehydration, the experts said, that indicates health and social structures have been attacked and are critically weakened.

"When the first child dies from malnutrition and dehydration, it becomes irrefutable that famine has taken hold," the experts said.

The panel called upon "the international community to prioritize the delivery of humanitarian aid by land by any means necessary, end Israel's siege, and establish a cease-fire."

Palestinians collect food items from airdropped aid parcels in the Hamad City area in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 4, 2024.
Palestinians collect food items from airdropped aid parcels in the Hamad City area in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 4, 2024.

Also Tuesday, at least 25 people were killed and dozens wounded after an airstrike on a school-turned-shelter for displaced Palestinians, according to a Palestinian health official.

The attack, apparently the fourth Israeli strike in as many days, hit the gate of the al-Awda school in Abasan, near the southern city of Khan Younis. Israel's military said it was looking into the report.

Tuesday's strike followed three prior attacks that Israel has acknowledged as targeting Hamas militants hiding in civilian areas.

The Gaza health ministry reported that an Israeli strike on Saturday killed 16 people at the United Nations-run al-Jawni school in Nuseirat, central Gaza, where about 2,000 people were sheltering.

The following day another strike killed four at the Sacred Family School in northern Gaza. And an Israeli strike on Monday hit another U.N.-run school in Nuseirat, hospitalizing several people.

Israeli military officials have said their forces have been fighting in the Shejaiya area, just east of Gaza City, killing dozens of militants.

Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad said they were fighting with machine guns, mortar fire and anti-tank missiles and had killed and wounded Israeli soldiers. Israel did not comment on its casualties but claimed 150 militant casualties in the past week, according to Reuters.

Hamas warned on Tuesday that the attacks could put the cease-fire talks at risk. And the U.N. Human Rights Office expressed concern about the operation and Israel's latest civilian evacuation orders.

The U.N. agency said the orders issued Sunday called for civilians to move to the west of Gaza City for safety, only to have the Israel Defense Forces intensify their strikes on those corridors.

"The U.N. Human Rights Office has repeatedly raised concerns that IDF's evacuation orders are confusing, often instructing people to relocate to areas where IDF military operations are ongoing," the agency said in a statement. "We reiterate our call on Israel to take all efforts to ensure the safety of civilians in Gaza."

The White House said Monday that U.S. officials are in Egypt for discussions with mediators designed to lead to a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday that CIA Director Bill Burns and Brett McGurk, the U.S. Middle East envoy, were in Cairo for talks with their Egyptian, Israeli and Jordanian counterparts.

"There are still some gaps that remain in the two sides in the positions, but we wouldn't have sent a team over there if we didn't think that we had a shot here," Kirby said. "We're trying to close those gaps as best we can."

Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people and captured about 250 hostages in their October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war. Israel says it believes Hamas is still holding 116 hostages, including 42 the military says are dead.

Israel's counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 38,243 Palestinians, according to the health ministry in Gaza. The health ministry says that Israel's military offensive in Gaza has killed or wounded more than 5% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.

‚Äč
XS
SM
MD
LG