Just Skin and Bone: The Starving Gaza Children Kept in Incubators

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 1 Apr 2024

Perkin Amalaraj | Daily Mail - TRANSCEND Media Service

UN Human Rights Chief Warns Israel May Be Guilty of War Crime if It Has Cut Off Food Aid

28 Mar 2024 – The toddler’s frail, malnourished body scarcely twitched as she lay helplessly in an incubator chamber in the already-decimated Gaza hospital.

Leila Jeneid, one of countless children who have passed through the doors of Kamal Adwan Hospital, in the north of the Gaza Strip, has suffered as a result of starvation and dehydration.

In a video clip, Leila can be seen quickly breathing in and out, desperate for a breath of fresh air in one of the 12 remaining hospitals in the besieged enclave.

The outline of her ribs, along with all her other bones, are visible through her pallid, paper-thin skin, which sits in stark contrast to the blue blanket underneath her that provides little comfort to the toddler, who is not old enough to comprehend the hellish suffering she is undergoing.

Her jaw is slack as she lies on her back inside the plastic cage of the incubator, barely able to move her arms and legs.

She can’t keep her eyes open as medics at the hospital, which UN official Andrea De Domenico this week said was receiving ‘about 15 malnourished children a day and is struggling to maintain services,’ run tests to understand how to help her.

But it’s food, water and proper rest she needs, all things that the whole enclave is desperately in need of, and all things that Israel has been accused of deliberately withholding from civilians in its bitter war against Hamas, which – according to a top UN human rights official – could amount to a war crime if proven.

Leila (pictured) can be seen quickly breathing in and out, desperate for a breath of fresh air in one of the 12 remaining hospitals

Leila (pictured) can be seen quickly breathing in and out, desperate for a breath of fresh air in a hospital

Fadi Zant, aged nine, is experiencing malnutrition and receives treatment after evacuated from the northern Gaza Strip

Fadi Zant, aged nine, is experiencing malnutrition and receives treatment after evacuated from the northern Gaza Strip

Israel has been accused of weaponising starvation as a method of war in its battle against Hamas

Israel has been accused of weaponising starvation as a method of war in its battle against Hamas

Volker Türk today stated that there is a ‘plausible’ case that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.

The UN commissioner for human rights said there was concrete evidence that Israel was slowing down or actively withholding the delivery of desperately needed aid to Gaza’s starving residents.

The condemnation comes as new images of bone-thin children lying in already-unstable health facilities, nearly six months after Hamas’ incursion into Israel led to the bloodiest conflict in the region in decades.

Türk told the BBC: ‘All of my humanitarian colleagues keep telling us that there is a lot of red tape. There are obstacles. There are hindrances… Israel is to blame in a significant way.

‘I can only say the facts speak for themselves… I understand that this needs to be controlled, but it cannot take days for it to be done.

Her jaw is slack as she lies on her back inside the plastic cage of the incubator

Her jaw is slack as she lies on her back inside the plastic cage of the incubator

Palestinian toddler Leila Jeneid, who suffers from severe malnutrition, receives treatment at Kamal Adwan Hospital

Palestinian toddler Leila Jeneid, who suffers from severe malnutrition, receives treatment at Kamal Adwan Hospital

Leila is one of countless children who pass through the door of the Kamal Adwan Hospital

Leila is one of countless children who pass through the door of the Kamal Adwan Hospital

11-year-old Palestinian girl Nur al-Huda Mohammed is being treated for malnutrition and severe dehydration at Kamal Adwan Hospital

11-year-old Palestinian girl Nur al-Huda Mohammed is being treated for malnutrition and severe dehydration at Kamal Adwan Hospital

‘When you put all kinds of requirements on the table that are unreasonable in an emergency… that brings up the question, with all the restrictions that we currently see, whether there is a plausible claim to be made that starvation is, or may be used as, a weapon of war.’

A recent UN report said that ‘famine is imminent in the northern governorates of the Gaza Strip and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.’

The report read: ‘The devastation brought about by the hostilities is indescribable. Widespread, intense, and relentless conflict has forced approximately 1.9 million people to flee, constituting 85% of the population in the Gaza Strip, with over 31,000 fatalities and 73,000 injuries reported.

‘The escalation of hostilities has caused widespread damage to assets and infrastructure indispensable to survival. About 50% of buildings – and more than 70% in the northern governorates – have been damaged or destroyed.

‘Extremely limited humanitarian access to and within the Gaza Strip continues to impede the safe and equitable delivery of life-saving multi-sector humanitarian assistance. This includes severe limitations to the supply of goods as well as basic services.’

Israel has flat out denied that it is not allowing aid into Gaza, with Israel’s economy minister, Nir Barkat, dismissing Türk’s claims as ‘total nonsense – a totally irresponsible thing to say.’

He added: ‘We’ll do everything we can to kill the Hamas terrorists and to minimise collateral damage as much as we can,’ he said.

‘With all due respect, we’re fighting evil, and we expect the world to help us fight evil until we finish Hamas off the map.’

But photos from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing show lines of trucks full of aid at a standstill, waiting for Israeli border guards to let them through.

The trucks full of aid can only be let through to Gaza with Israel’s permission, following a complicated and bureaucratic series of checks.

Even when aid does manage to get through land borders, Palestinians have to contend with trigger-happy IDF soldiers, who have been accused of massacring civilians as they try to get aid.

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