Newborns die of hunger and mothers struggle to feed their children as Israel’s siege condemns Gazans to starvation

Newborns die of hunger and mothers struggle to feed their children as Israel’s siege condemns Gazans to starvation - Education - News

Title: The Silent Crisis: Starvation and Malnutrition Haunt Children in Gaza Amidst Continuous Conflict

In the northern region of Gaza, Anwar Abdul Nabi sits mournfully by her daughter Mila’s bed at Kamal Adwan Hospital. Her eyes reflect a deep sense of loss and despair as she tenderly clutches her deceased child’s fingers. Mila, a seven-year-old girl, passed away due to starvation, leaving her mother with an unbearable sense of grief.

As essential supplies continue to dwindle under Israel’s severe restrictions on aid entering the Gaza Strip, displaced Palestinian families are struggling to feed their children. New mothers are unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed their babies, while parents scramble for infant formula at overwhelmed health facilities in Northern Gaza. The lack of vital supplies has forced the medical system to a breaking point.

Since the beginning of Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, at least 30,717 Palestinians have been killed, and another 72,156 injured. The conflict has left the enclave’s population of approximately 2.2 million people exposed to acute food insecurity or worse, according to the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC).

At least 18 Palestinian children have starved to death in northern Gaza, including a one-day-old baby. The true number could be much higher as limited access to the region has hindered aid agencies from fully assessing the situation there. UN experts have accused Israel of intentionally starving Palestinians in Gaza by imposing stringent inspections on aid trucks, allowing only a tiny fraction of the food and supplies that used to enter daily before the war.

One-year-old Watin is among the children struggling to survive in northern Gaza, where food shortages are particularly dire. She is barely consuming one to two dates a day instead of baby formula due to her father’s inability to scavenge enough food for her.

The impending births of thousands of pregnant women in the Gaza Strip are at risk due to severe malnutrition and a lack of access to prenatal or postnatal care. At least 5,500 pregnant women do not have access to essential healthcare services due to bombings and the need to flee for safety.

Food scarcity is most prevalent in northern Gaza, where Israel concentrated its military offensive during the war’s early stages. Child malnutrition rates are approximately three times higher than in southern Gaza. In some health facilities, at least one in six children under the age of two are acutely malnourished, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This figure is likely much greater today given the current conditions. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also face significant health threats due to malnutrition, according to a report by the Global Nutrition Cluster.

Doctors in northern Gaza are treating cases of dehydration, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis among women and children. Dr. Muhammad Salha of Al-Awda Hospital reported that mothers are not eating due to the dire conditions, resulting in infants’ suffering from dehydration and malnutrition. In some instances, babies have died in their mothers’ wombs, requiring surgeries to remove the deceased fetuses.

Israel’s bombardment and siege have forcibly displaced approximately 1.7 million Palestinians, many of whom are living in overcrowded shelters without basic sanitation. Malnourished children are at a greater risk of dying from illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia due to the poor living conditions, according to the World Health Organization.

Another doctor in northern Gaza, Ahmad Salem, shared that patients in intensive care and neonatal units are dying from malnutrition and the lack of oxygen due to fuel shortages. The medical worker at Kamal Adwan Hospital lamented, “We suffer from starvation of mothers.”

Scores of desperate civilians have been seen clambering over each other to grab ration packs from aid drops in northern Gaza. On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt sent 42 tons of medical supplies and food via airplanes to the region. The US military parachuted over 36,800 meals into northern Gaza that day.

However, human rights groups have criticized these drops as inefficient and potentially dangerous for civilians attempting to collect the aid. They are urging Israeli authorities to lift controls on land crossings into Gaza and grant safe and unfettered access for aid workers to assist those in need. Melanie Ward, the CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians, called on Israel to “immediately open all crossings into Gaza for aid workers” and declared, “Only safe and unfettered access for aid and aid workers, the lifting of the siege, and an immediate ceasefire can end starvation in Gaza.”

Even when aid does make it into the strip, collecting it can be a dangerous endeavor. Israeli forces opened fire on people waiting for aid at Kuwait Roundabout in Northern Gaza on Monday, according to eyewitnesses. The Israeli Defense Forces have yet to comment on the incident.

Last Thursday, at least 118 people were killed while trying to access food aid in Gaza City, marking one of the deadliest incidents of the war. Palestinian health officials reported Israeli troops had used live fire on civilians gathering around food trucks. The Israeli military claimed they first fired warning shots for crowd control before opening fire on “looters” who came towards them. Most of the casualties occurred when aid truck drivers tried to escape the gunfire and chaos, according to both Palestinian health officials and the Israeli military.

Faraj Abu Naji, whose sister recently gave birth to twin girls, managed to secure three cartons of milk for them from an aid drop in Northern Gaza. He shared, “We thank God that there is humanitarian aid being dropped from Jordanian and Emirati planes.”

The situation in Gaza remains a dire one for its civilian population, with the threat of starvation looming large as the conflict continues to escalate.