Starvation Is Stalking Gaza’s Children

Standing over a tiny bundle wrapped in a sheet on a hospital bed, a young father drapes his hand across his face in despair. Mousa Salem, a Gaza photographer who videotaped this sad tableau and sent it to me, said the sheet swaddled 2-month-old Mohamed al-Zayegh, who died on Friday in Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza City. “Nutrition? What nutrition?” a staff member in scrubs says in the video. “The mother gave birth to him during the war.”

“The health of the mother affects the health of the baby,” he added. “This is very well known in the science of medicine and health. And all of this piled on the child and he got sick, he has a weak immune system. “

Another infant, 2-month-old Mahmoud Fattouh, died of malnutrition on Friday at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, according to Al Jazeera, which cited a news agency thought to be close to Hamas. “The baby has not been fed any milk for days,” a paramedic who took the child to the hospital said in a video verified by Al Jazeera.

Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, the head of the pediatric department of Kamal Adwan Hospital, said this month he was seeing a number of deaths among children, especially newborns. “Signs of weakness and paleness are apparent on newborns because the mother is malnourished,” he said.

Reports of death by starvation are difficult to verify from a distance. The hunger in Gaza is caused but also partly hidden by a pitiless war that has obliterated hospitals, flooded morgues and damaged communication networks, leaving us to cobble together what’s happening from scraps of information. Relief organizations in Gaza struggle to figure out whether the crisis has crossed formally into famine; statistically, the clearest indication is that at least two people out of every 10,000 die every day from starvation. They measure the circumference of children’s upper arms to document the peril of their weight loss.

These children are not suffering from drought or crop failure or some other natural disaster. Their hunger is a man-made catastrophe. The Israeli government has slowed and even prevented food aid from entering the besieged Gaza Strip. Even when trucks do get through, Israeli bombardment and, more recently, the growing desperation of

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