newsIsrael at War

Report: New study exposes UN’s skewed portrayal of ‘intentional starvation’ in Gaza

INSS research reveals significant discrepancies in U.N. agencies' data on aid entering the Gaza Strip.

Aid packages are dropped on Gaza from the air, April 30, 2024. Photo by Abood Abusalama/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images.
Aid packages are dropped on Gaza from the air, April 30, 2024. Photo by Abood Abusalama/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images.

A new study has cast doubt on the United Nations’ portrayal of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, revealing substantial discrepancies in reported aid figures and challenging the narrative of widespread famine. The research, conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and first published in Israel Hayom, exposes a pattern of selective data reporting that has potentially misled international opinion and legal proceedings against Israel.

The United Nations and its affiliated agencies operating in Gaza have come under scrutiny for presenting distorted and potentially biased reports on humanitarian aid entering the region since the onset of the conflict. This misrepresentation, according to a new study by the INSS, has played a significant role in fueling accusations of “intentional starvation” against Israel.

Tammy Caner, the lead researcher, conducted a comparative analysis of aid volume data published by Israel against figures released by U.N. agencies, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The investigation uncovered a startling discrepancy: Approximately 10,000 aid trucks that entered Gaza during the conflict months were omitted from U.N. reports. While U.N. figures cite about 28,000 trucks, the Israeli Defense Forces’ District Coordination and Liaison (DCL) reports a significantly higher number of 38,000.

This substantial gap stems from several factors, according to the INSS study. U.N. representatives failed to account for trucks entering through the Erez Crossing, air shipments and deliveries via the U.S. naval pier. Moreover, aid received by international organizations other than UNRWA and trucks delayed within Gaza due to internal issues were excluded from U.N. reports.

“The data omits considerable aid, including essential supplies like gas and fuel,” Caner noted. “In April alone, the U.N. reported a daily average of 169 aid trucks, while the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories cited 219. May’s records show UNRWA missing over 1,000 aid trucks from U.N. agencies compared to Israeli records.”

Turning a blind eye 

The study further notes that the United Nations disregards the fact that Hamas attacks the crossings through which aid is brought in and forcibly takes control of convoys.

“The U.N. presents data on the delay of aid missions in a way that portrays Israel as solely responsible for the difficulties. The reports omit crucial facts about Hamas’s control over convoy routes and distribution points, which requires aid organizations in the Gaza Strip to coordinate their activities with it. They also fail to mention incidents of looting of aid trucks, storage facilities and distribution points by Hamas and criminal gangs. There is no mention of Hamas attacking civilian and humanitarian infrastructure, including aid convoys and routes, Hamas’s rocket fire on border crossings that necessitated their closure and the closure of the Rafah crossing by Egyptian orders,” the study states.

Additionally, Israel is accused of closing crossings following Hamas attacks, without mention of the fact that it opened three additional land border crossings to facilitate the entry of aid to the northern and central parts of the Strip.

“That there are hungry people in Gaza does not indicate that there is famine in Gaza”

Perhaps most alarmingly, the study questions the accuracy of U.N. agencies’ famine forecasts for Gaza.

“Predictions suggested over 20,000 starvation deaths by now, yet as of early June, only a few dozen such cases have been documented,” Caner reports. This discrepancy raises serious questions about the methodology and reliability of these projections. 

The implications of these findings are far-reaching. The international community’s reliance on these potentially flawed U.N. reports has led to severe consequences for Israel, including legal actions and accusations of war crimes.

“The fact that there are hungry people in Gaza does not indicate that there is famine in Gaza, certainly not that there is intentional starvation of the population. The distorted picture created by the United Nations has fueled legal proceedings against Israel in international courts, including allegations of genocide,” Caner concludes. “It’s crucial that judicial bodies examine all available data, including Israel’s reports, to form a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the situation in Gaza.”

An overview of a late June IPC report states that 495,000 Gazans are “still facing” famine. Data from the same report, however, shows that 495,000 Gazans are projected to face famine in the coming months—not that they currently face famine.

The report’s release came just weeks after the IPC’s Famine Review Committee found that assessments of Gazan famine were not plausible, due to incorrect assumptions, a misreading of data and, notably, a glaring omission of substantial amount of food entering Gaza through the commercial and private sectors.

The United Nations point person on Gaza said on Tuesday that a “data gap” with Israel is leading to “different conclusions” where the Gaza Strip is concerned.

Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, briefed the U.N. Security Council in an open setting before following members into closed consultations.

With respect to ongoing disputes between the United Nations and Israel regarding the amount of aid being screened by Israel and entering Gaza “and the ability of the U.N. actually to come and collect it and distribute it, you see a data gap there. And those are obviously different conclusions that we draw,” said Kaag during a later press briefing in answer to a JNS query.

However, she added, the mechanism created by the Security Council to enhance the flow of aid led to a single database, via which “you can see which types of goods go in, what’s approved, what’s denied, and where’s the follow up.”

That database, Kaag said, will “hopefully” provide “common ground in order to fix” any aid delivery issues.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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