OpinionIsrael at War

Hamas steals food from its citizens, yet Israel gets blamed

Hamas alone is employing starvation as a weapon of war. It knows enemies of Israel will blame the Jewish state, helping push Israel to end the war.

Trucks with aid arrive on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Feb. 17, 2024. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Trucks with aid arrive on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Feb. 17, 2024. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili is a contributing editor at Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

“Israel has been intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October,” say United Nations “experts.” 

This accusation is blatantly false: Israel is neither responsible for nor complicit in Gazans going hungry. 

First, Israel facilitates unprecedented deliveries of food to Gaza, despite enormous obstacles. Second, there is no food shortage in Gaza. Third, it is Hamas who is starving Gaza’s civilians, using their suffering to bring international pressure on Israel to cease its campaign to destroy the terrorist group. 

Given these realities, why do the media and leftist politicians so willingly swallow and perpetuate the lie that Israel is starving Gazans?

All evidence shows that while there is food in Gaza, most Gazans cannot afford it. The reason: Hamas prevents needy Gazans from accessing donated food by stealing and reselling it on the black market—forcing Gazans to pay exorbitant prices for what should be free. 

Hamas is also working to prevent Israel’s efforts to facilitate aid delivery to ordinary Gazans through local clans and business people, threatening reprisals against Palestinians who cooperate with Israel as it attempts to prevent theft by the terrorists.

For the media, politicians, the United Nations and NGOs to blame Israel for the suffering of Gazan civilians is not only inaccurate and unfair, it distracts world attention from the real reasons for Gaza’s hunger crisis. Where are the stories exposing Hamas’s profiteering in food it steals from the mouths of starving children and families? Where are the cries to stop the plunder and safely deliver donated food directly to ordinary Gazans? 

The accusation that Israel is “starving Gazans” is a blood libel—malicious and unproven. There is no proof that Israel intentionally limits food supplies to Gaza. To the contrary, Israel makes herculean efforts to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Over the last five months, Israel has allowed nearly 14,000 aid trucks into Gaza—an average of about 2,800 a month, 665 a week. Some 126 food trucks per day enter Gaza currently. COGAT, the body responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s civilian policy in the Gaza Strip, has stated, “There is no limit to the amount of aid that can enter Gaza.”

Remember, Israel itself facilitated the aid convoy that last month gave rise to another blood libel—the lie that the Israel Defense Forces murdered over 100 civilians seeking aid on Feb. 29. Israel organized this convoy in partnership with local Palestinian businessmen. Contrary to media reports, nearly all the civilians killed trying to access the aid died in a stampede that ensued when they swarmed the convoy.

Israel welcomes every effort to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including its suggestion of aid delivery by sea, which the United States is currently implementing. 

Food in Gaza is available—for a price. While the media and many NGOs portray the humanitarian situation in Gaza as apocalyptic, this seems a gross exaggeration, especially when comparing Gaza now to, say, Somalia in 2011, where a famine was only declared once 100,000 people had died. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry claims 21 people have died of malnutrition and dehydration—tragic, but hardly a humanitarian disaster.

Still, media run such headlines as, “Gaza residents surviving off animal feed and rice as food dwindles.” In contrast, evidence indicates sufficient food is available in Gaza markets—for those who can afford it. 

In an interview with The New Arab, Gaza resident Mohammed al-Ashram said, “Because of the unreasonable prices, I can barely buy a few vegetables and some meat for my children…and we do not get enough food or even water. In return, we are forced to buy it from the black market.” It is because of Hamas that Gazans like al-Ashram do not receive the aid they should be getting.

Hamas deliberately prevents needy Gazans from accessing humanitarian aid. They distribute to themselves, then sell the rest on the black market. One Gaza resident told The Media Line, “[The aid] goes to the gangs. Hamas controls 70% of it, and the rest goes to merchants who sell it in the market. We do not receive aid except for a few things on rare occasions. The rest is for Hamas, and the merchants belong to Hamas. The prices are very high, and we cannot buy it.”

Israeli intelligence estimates Hamas steals as much as 66% of the aid meant for Gazan civilians. The Media Line reporter also witnessed armed men, who locals identified as Hamas operatives, surrounding the aid trucks and firing into the air to keep Gazan civilians away.

Hamas also prevents Gazan civilians from ensuring safe delivery of humanitarian aid. In an effort to prevent Hamas from pirating aid, Israel is working to enlist influential, often well-armed, large families or clans in Gaza. However, many clans refuse to work with Israel, fearing reprisals from Hamas.

Last week, Hamas executed the leader of the Doghmush clan in northern Gaza because Israel allegedly contacted him about supervising aid distribution. Hamas’s Al-Majd website issued a warning to any Palestinians against helping Israel secure aid convoys. Until Hamas’s vise-like control over Gaza is broken, it’s hard to imagine stopping them from routinely stealing humanitarian aid.

Hamas alone is employing starvation as a weapon of war. Hamas knows enemies of Israel will blame the Jewish state for hungry Gazans, helping push Israel to end the war, thus allowing Hamas to survive. Hamas’s strategy seems to be working, as Biden and other Western leaders use all manner of excuses—first fake death statistics, now “starvation”—to increase pressure on Israel to discontinue destroying the barbaric terrorist group.

Yet it is in Hamas’s power to end the suffering of Gazan Palestinians. First they can stop stealing food aid meant for their citizens. Second, they can lay down their arms, surrender and release the hostages, in which case hunger in Gaza—and deaths on both sides—will end. In the long term, the people of Gaza will become free of Hamas’s brutal repression and gain a chance to live in peace with their neighbor, Israel.

Originally published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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