UNITED NATIONS, Feb 13 : Besieged Gaza’s population is suffering “unprecedented” levels of “near famine-like conditions” as deadly Israeli attacks on the enclave continue, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Some 550,000 people are now likely facing catastrophic food insecurity levels, while the whole population is in crisis mode, the UN agency said.
FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol said on Monday all the 2.2 million people in Gaza are in the top three hunger categories, from level three, which is considered an emergency, to level five, or catastrophe. “We are seeing more and more people essentially on the brink of and moving into famine-like conditions every day.” The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) rates hunger levels from one to five. “At this stage, probably about 25 percent of that 2.2 million are in that top-level IPC five category,” Ms. Bechdol said. The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out on Oct. 7. Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, has become a last refuge for fleeing civilians. Many are sleeping outside in tents and makeshift shelters amid mounting concern about the lack of food, water and sanitation during an Israeli siege. Before the conflict, the people of Gaza had “a self-sustaining fruit and vegetable production sector, populated with greenhouses, while there was also a robust backyard small-scale livestock production sector,” Ms. Bechdol said. There is no estimate of how many Palestinians have died directly or indirectly of hunger since the outbreak of the war. The few remaining hospitals in Gaza typically only record deaths from Israeli attacks. Israel has killed more than 28,000 people, many of them women and children, since that October day, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The vast majority of the Gaza population has been displaced and the medical system lies in ruins, meaning many deaths go uncounted.