Israeli Major-General Giora Eiland has urged that all food and water be cut off to Gaza’s nearly 1.8 million Palestinian residents – a major war crime and precisely the “starve or surrender” policy which the United States has condemned when used in Syria.
Eiland, the Israeli government’s former national security advisor, argues that Gaza should be considered an enemy “state.”
“Since Gaza is in fact a state in a military confrontation with us, the proper way to put pressure on them is to bring to a full stop the supplies from Israel to Gaza, not only of electricity and fuel, but also of food and water,” he wrote in a Hebrew-language op-ed on Mako, a website affiliated with Israel’s Channel 2 television.
“A state cannot simultaneously attack and feed the enemy, while he is shooting at you, because this gives the other country a breathing space – and again I am referring to Gaza as a country, because the regime there is supported by its people,” Eiland adds.
A Palestinian boy stands in his family’s damaged home as people inspect the remains of another house, destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip, 23 August. (APA images / Ashraf Amra)
Israel legally obliged to supply Gaza population
Eiland appears to believe that the fiction that Gaza is a sovereign “state” would somehow lessen culpability for what would amount to massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Under Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”
Under international law, Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza has not ended its military occupation of the territory because Gaza remains under the “effective control” of Israel.
Yet Israel has long violated its obligation by deliberately restricting the basic needs of Gaza’s population and deliberately destroying their food sources including agricultural land, poultry and dairy farms.
While Eiland’s proposal calls to cut all food and water, strictly regulating the food intake of Palestinians in Gaza to achieve political ends, has long been the Israeli occupation’s actual policy.
Israel’s deliberate attacks on Gaza’s civilian infrastructure has created a “water disaster,” already depriving every single person of access to a safe and secure supply of water.
Israel’s brutal siege is precisely what the Palestinian resistance in Gaza is currently fighting to end.
Possible genocidal intent
Eiland recently argued in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, that because they elected Hamas, the people of Gaza as a whole “are to blame for this situation just like Germany’s residents were to blame for electing Hitler as their leader and paid a heavy price for that, and rightfully so.”
General Eiland’s call – which may amount to incitement to genocide – as well as to war crimes and crimes against humanity – is only the latest exterminationist proposal from an Israeli leader.
Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, for instance, recently called for the population of Gaza to be moved to concentration camps and then expelled so that Gaza could be resettled with Jews.
“Starve or surrender” mirrors Syria policy
The United States government, Israel’s chief sponsor, has not expressed any criticism of Eiland’s proposals, nor done anything to end Israel’s siege. However, it views “starve or surrender” as a grave crime when used against opposition-held areas by the government in Syria.
This has been the case in several areas including Yarmouk refugee camp where, Amnesty International has said, the Syrian government is “using starvation as a weapon of war to achieve its ends.”
Last month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that “all Syrian parties to the conflict,” including the government and the opposition, “shall enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to people throughout Syria,” immediately “removing all impediments to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”
By contrast, the so-called “international community,” led by the United States, has supported and justified Israel’s siege of Gaza for almost eight years.