By Elizabeth Shumbusho
The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) has issued a stern rebuke against the use of food as a tool of warfare in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza. As battles rage, Gaza’s civilian population is being subjected to a concerning denial of essential supplies like food, fuel, and water.
“Using food as a weapon of war is an indefensible act,” stated IPES-Food, emphasizing that nearly half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people impacted by the siege are children. This move stands in direct violation of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions.
While there has been a recent effort to open a humanitarian corridor in Rafah, the provisions coming through are not sufficient to meet the urgent needs of the population. Continuous airstrikes further jeopardize the already perilous situation by impeding civilians’ access to these crucial supplies.
Recalling the UN Security Council’s 2018 Resolution 2417, IPES-Food emphasized the prohibition of starving civilians as a warfare method. Gaza, having already suffered from a 16-year blockade, finds 62% of its population in need of food assistance. The current situation intensifies this dire need, marking yet another instance where food is wielded as a weapon in global conflicts.
The Panel is not alone in its concerns. On October 19, UN experts had voiced grave concerns over the tightened siege, reminding all parties of the UN Security Council’s stance against starvation as a warfare tactic.
IPES-Food demands an immediate end to the violence, urging for the provision of uninterrupted and expanded humanitarian aid to the civilians of Gaza. This includes essentials such as food, water, and fuel, which is vital for running hospitals and water pumps.
Emphasizing the universal right to food, the Panel called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, release of hostages, and initiation of a fair political dialogue aimed at achieving sustainable peace and long-term food security.
The overarching message from IPES-Food remains clear: the use of food as a weapon of war must be unequivocally condemned and halted.