Israel Is Starving Gazan Children to Death

A seven-month-old child, Fayez Abu Ataya, starved to death yesterday in central Gaza. He lived his entire brief life under Israeli siege. How many more Palestinian children must die?

Seven-month-old Palestinian baby Fayez Abu Ataya, who died due to malnutrition, being carried by his father in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on May 30, 2024. (Ashraf Amra / Anadolu via Getty Images)

Fayez Abu Ataya, a newborn from Gaza, had been wasting away for days from lack of milk and medicine as a result of Israel’s crippling blockade and deliberate starvation of Gaza. A bone-chilling video showed the child dying in real time.

Yesterday morning, Abu Ataya succumbed to starvation, dying in his father’s arms at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. Held by his weeping father, he resembled a bare skeleton. Aged seven months at the time of his death, he was born and died in genocide.

In a heartbreaking interview with Al Jazeera, the grieving father said:

Thank God, he was born in the war, at the school (shelter), and he was martyred here at the hospital. We found him this morning in this condition, like a flower. We had asked to move him out but were denied travel as the crossings were all closed. A medical delegation had operated on him. All he wanted was milk, food, necessary nourishments, and clean air. He became a skeleton because of the siege.

“The infant Fayez Abu Ataya has died as a result to malnutrition and lack of medical treatment in Deir al-Balah,” a medical source told reporters. He added that “Fayez was born during Israel’s war on Gaza and suffered from lack of treatment due to Israel’s closure of all the crossings to Gaza.” He further lamented that “Baby Fayez needed special milk and medication, which both are no longer available in Gaza.”

The Al-Aqsa Hospital itself is on the brink of collapse as Israel continues to deprive hospitals in Gaza of the fuel necessary to operate the generators.

Following Abu Ataya’s death, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, posted: “We apologize for sharing such a graphic image, but this is the daily reality of the genocide that President Biden is enabling in violation of US law, which forbids arming foreign governments that block US humanitarian aid.”

Abu Ataya was not the first child to die of starvation in Gaza. In March, Yazan al-Kafarneh, a ten-year-old Palestinian boy, died in his mother’s arms at a local hospital in Rafah, after lying in bed for weeks with a skeletal body, sunken cheeks, bare bones, and hollowed eyes. He weighed eleven pounds when he died. A month before, Mahmoud Fattouh, a two-month-old Palestinian boy, died from starvation in northern Gaza, having gone days without milk.

So far, over thirty Palestinian children and newborns have perished due to starvation because of Israel’s inhumane blockade of Gaza — and more such deaths are imminent due to Israel’s cruel denial of milk and medicine to starving Palestinian children in the besieged strip. Aid groups warn that humanitarian aid in Gaza has plunged since Israel invaded and occupied the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s last link to the outside world. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that humanitarian operations in Gaza are nearing total collapse, warning that “if food and humanitarian supplies do not begin to enter Gaza in massive quantities, desperation and hunger will spread.”

This is a war against humanity. Israel’s deliberate starvation of Palestinians like Fayez Abu Ataya makes a brutal mockery of international appeals to allow aid into the besieged enclave.

Last month, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a damning report warning that Israel was manufacturing famine in Gaza, and thus committing the crime of starvation. “The severe hunger that has developed over recent months in the Gaza Strip is not a result of fate, but the product of a deliberate and conscious Israeli policy. It has been openly declared by decision makers, including a member of the Israeli war cabinet, from the very beginning of the war.”

Abu Ataya’s death comes amid reports that the United Nations may finally put Israel on its “list of shame” of child-killing states, which is unlikely to stop Israel from starving more children in Gaza. Emboldened by the United States’ unconditional support, Israel has sealed off all the seven land crossings to Gaza, including the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Israel has destroyed all bakeries in Gaza and the southern city of Rafah and routinely bombed Palestinians seeking food aid for their starving families. The Guardian reports that Israeli soldiers have backed settler groups blocking, attacking, and looting aid trucks bound for Gaza. The Israeli army has destroyed and burned food supplies in Gaza, while Israeli soldiers have filmed themselves stealing humanitarian aid bound for starving Palestinians in Gaza.

Western governments, led by the Biden administration, are complicit in Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe. Instead of forcing Israel to open the land crossings before the queuing humanitarian convoys, the Biden administration has acted powerless. Embarking on political theatrics, the United States built a floating aid pier off Gaza, which has only made matters worse for starving Palestinians, as observers believe that Gaza was receiving more aid before the US aid port was built.

People in Gaza are looking down into the abyss. Without real global action to stop it, more children will die if Israel’s inhumane starvation of Gaza is allowed to continue.