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Palestinians in northern Gaza living on less than a can of beans per day: Report

Palestinians in northern Gaza are consuming less than 12 percent of the recommended daily 2,100 calories needed, in what Oxfam calls a 'deliberate' choice by Israel to starve civilians
Children walk past the rubble of a collapsed building with a pot of food provided by a charity ahead of the fast-breaking "iftar" meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Gaza's Rafah, on 16 March 2024 (Said Khatib/AFP)

Palestinians in northern Gaza are surviving on less than one can of fava beans - or an average of 245 calories per day - as Israel continues to choke aid flows into the besieged enclave and officials warn famine has taken hold.

The latest breakdown of caloric intake by Oxfam International means that Palestinians in northern Gaza are consuming less than 12 percent of the recommended daily 2,100 calories needed.

Oxfam also found that the total food deliveries allowed into Gaza for the entire 2.2 million population amounted to an average of just 41 percent of the daily calories needed per person.

“Israel is making deliberate choices to starve civilians. Imagine what it is like, not only to be trying to survive on 245 calories day in, day out, but also having to watch your children or elderly relatives do the same,” said Amitabh Behar, Oxfam's executive director.

Oxfam said that in order stave off famine, an “absolute minimum" of 221 trucks of food alone were needed every day in the enclave. Currently, Israel is allowing just 105 food trucks on average to enter Gaza, Oxfam said.  

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Israel ordered a total siege of Gaza after the Hamas-led 7 October attacks on southern Israel, but has denied allegations it is blocking aid, blaming it on aid organisations' inability to deliver supplies and “lawlessness”.

How Israel's Gaza aid convoy attack brings Palestinians closer to famine
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Aid organisations widely dispute that claim. Israel’s targeting of aid workers was underlined on Tuesday after three Israeli strikes killed seven workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK). The organisation said the strike took place despite coordination with the Israeli military about its movements. WCK's founder and celebrity chef Jose Andres said Israel "systematically" targeted aid workers. Israel called the strike a “grave mistake”.

Israel has also announced it will no longer work with Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinians, and the largest aid organisation in Gaza distributing food before the war. It has now blocked their access to the besieged enclave.

Oxfam’s report comes as starvation stalks Gaza. The UN has warned that famine is “imminent” in the enclave’s north. On Friday, a US official said famine was “quite possibly” already present. At least 27 children have died of malnutrition and dehydration in the besieged enclave.

The UN’s top court has ordered Israel to ensure the “unhindered” delivery of food and other aid to Gaza.

“Israel is ignoring both the International Court of Justice order to prevent genocide and UN Security Council resolutions. Only last week the ICJ ordered new provisional measures, stating famine is no longer looming, but ‘setting in’ in Gaza,” Behar said, adding that Oxfam demanded all countries stop supplying arms to Israel and a permanent ceasefire.

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