The 10-Year-Old Boy Who Has Become the Face of Starvation in Gaza

It is all too easy to trace the skull beneath the Gazan boy’s face, the pallid skin stretching tight over every curve of bone and sagging with every hollow. His chin juts with a disturbing sharpness. His flesh has shrunk and shriveled, life reduced to little more than a thin mask over an imminent death.

In one of a series of news photographs of the boy, Yazan Kafarneh, taken with his family’s permission as he struggled for his life, his long-lashed eyes stare out, unfocused. In that widely shared picture online, his right hand, bandaged over an intravenous line, contracts in on itself at an awkward angle, a visible marker of his cerebral palsy.

He was 10, but in photographs from his last days at a clinic in southern Gaza, he looks both small for his age and at the same time ancient. By Monday, Yazan was dead.

The pictures of Yazan circulating on social media have quickly made him the face of starvation in Gaza.

Aid groups have warned that deaths from malnutrition-related causes have only just begun for Gaza’s more than two million people. Five months into Israel’s campaign against Hamas and its siege of Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are close to starvation, United Nations officials say. Almost no aid has reached northern Gaza for weeks, after major U.N. agencies mostly suspended their operations, citing mass looting of their cargoes by desperate Gazans, Israeli restrictions on convoys and the poor condition of roads damaged during the war.

At least 20 Palestinian children have died from malnutrition and dehydration, according to Gazan health officials. Like Yazan, who required medicines that were in acutely short supply in Gaza, many of those who died also suffered from health conditions that further placed their lives at risk, health officials said.

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