Gaza faces imminent mass deaths due to severe food shortages, monitor warns

Extreme food shortages in parts of the Gaza Strip have surpassed famine levels, leading to warnings of imminent mass deaths without an immediate ceasefire and a significant increase in food supplies to areas isolated by conflict, a global hunger monitoring group reported Monday.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a key resource for U.N. agencies, reported that 70% of people in parts of northern Gaza are experiencing the most severe level of food shortage. This figure is more than triple the 20% threshold considered indicative of famine.

While the IPC lacks complete data on death rates, it estimates that residents could soon face famine-scale mortality rates, defined as two deaths per 10,000 individuals daily due to starvation or related malnutrition and disease. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 27 children and three adults have already succumbed to malnutrition.

“To prevent famine, an immediate political decision for a ceasefire is required, along with a significant and urgent increase in humanitarian and commercial access for Gaza’s entire population,” the IPC stated.

In total, approximately 1.1 million Gazans, about half of the population, are facing “catastrophic” food shortages. Around 300,000 people in the area are now at risk of famine-scale death rates.

The possibility of a man-made famine in Gaza has elicited strong criticism of Israel from Western allies since its military action against Hamas militants following their attack on Israeli territory on Oct. 7.

“We are no longer on the brink of famine in Gaza; we are in a state of famine… Starvation is being used as a weapon of war. Israel is provoking famine,” said EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell at a Brussels aid conference for Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz urged Borrell to “stop attacking Israel and acknowledge our right to self-defense against Hamas’ crimes.” Katz stated that Israel facilitated “extensive humanitarian aid to Gaza by land, air, and sea for those willing to assist,” and claimed aid efforts were “violently disrupted” by Hamas militants, with “collaboration” from the U.N.’s aid agency UNRWA.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the IPC report as an “appalling indictment” and called on Israel to allow complete and unrestricted access to all parts of Gaza.

Britain’s Foreign Minister David Cameron stated he would closely review the report, adding, “The status quo is unsustainable. We need urgent action now to prevent a famine.”

Israel, which initially permitted aid through only two checkpoints on Gaza’s southern border, says it has opened additional land routes and allowed sea shipments and air drops. The first aid shipment by boat arrived last week.

However, aid agencies report difficulties in bringing sufficient supplies and distributing them safely, particularly in the northern regions.