Rachel Lester

I read the new ‘Gaza famine report’ so you don’t have to

5 ways the report suggests there's no famine in Gaza
Screenshot: The cover of the Famine Review Committee's June 2024 report

The June 2024 IPC Report about “famine in Gaza” is the most important thing going on in the world of hasbara right now. Are people in Gaza suffering from famine, or does this new report debunk everything the world has been saying (screaming) for the last four months?

The truth is, all I’ve seen on social media about this new report is either way too complicated or oversimplified to the point of being fake news. So I meticulously went through the 12-page document to see for myself exactly what it says, and it turns out it is worth the read. Let’s dive in.

What is in this report and why is it important?

The narrative that there is currently or projected to be famine in Gaza was based on “special reports” and “targeted analyses” published in March, April, and May by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). This organization has the US Aid logo on their website but also a disclaimer that what’s posted there is not official US government information, so take that as you will. They use a five-phase scale called the “Integrated Food Security Phase Classification” (abbreviated as IPC) to classify current and projected levels of food insecurity. 

At the top of this same organization, there is a Famine Review Committee (FRC) led by a team of four to six experts on food security and nutrition, whose job it is to conduct a Famine Review process on the aforementioned FEWS NET “special reports” and “targeted analyses.” So when we talk about the new June 2024 IPC Report, this is all one organization reviewing its own data from April and its own projections for May, June, and July. The FRC report was published on the UN website, but it’s unclear to me if the FRC is considered a UN agency, partner, or something else. (If you know, please reach out!)

Sparknotes summary: FEWS NET told the world there was currently/about to be famine in Gaza, and everyone believed them. FRC did a report on FEWS NET’s information.

So now let’s dive in, for real, into what this report actually found. I’m going to list them in order of importance (in my opinion), not in order of appearance in the text.


The FRC highlights two glaring omissions in the FEWS NET’s analysis of food in Gaza: FEWS NET “excludes the contribution of commercial and/or privately contracted deliveries” as well as “the contribution of World Food Program deliveries (flour salt, and yeast) to bakeries in northern Gaza.” 

Without counting these two sources of food at all, FEWS NET came to the conclusion that Gaza was only receiving 59-63% of its caloric needs in April. Based on the FRC’s review of all of the food sources, however, the FRC estimates that Gaza would have 109% of its caloric needs met according to its low estimates  – 157% at its high estimate.

Wow, that sure does not sound like a famine to me.

Going even further, the FRC gives FEWS NET the benefit of the doubt: maybe the commercial/privately contracted food deliveries and the bakery deliveries were “difficult to access, especially for the most vulnerable”? The FRC answers its own hypothetical question: “Unlikely.”


“The lower FEWS NET estimates do suggest two key points: 1) that there was a significant increase in food availability from February to March to April, and 2) that nearly 100% of daily kilocalorie requirements were available for the estimated population of 300,000 people in April, even using conservative calculations.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Even according to the most conservative calculations made by the very people who have been crying “famine” in Gaza, what the pro-Israel movement has been saying for months is actually true: Israel has been delivering more food to Gaza than ever before – increasing amounts every day – and people in Gaza would have all the food they need if it was distributed by the UN properly.

Sweet validation.


“The FRC has some concerns with the methods by which the situation with regard to food availability in northern Gaza was calculated, which, combined with an incomplete understanding of food access makes the FEWS NET conclusions tenuous.” The predictions for deaths caused by malnutrition or dehydration “are not supported by the available evidence for the current period of analysis.”

Why is that? Partially because there was much more food and water delivered to Gaza in April than in March. And partially because, as always, we just don’t know enough about Gaza’s death count. As the FRC says, “there remains considerable uncertainty about the death toll in northern Gaza during this period, particularly for non-trauma mortality.”



“The FRC notes that the overall number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip and available food that FEWS NET used for its analysis is significantly less than reported by other sources.

So the people who wrote the report that there is famine in Gaza (which there isn’t) were basing their claims on the last Big Lie: that Israel wasn’t allowing enough humanitarian aid into Gaza (which they were). This is why misinformation is so dangerous.


“To address major gaps in publicly accessible evidence, including direct and indirect evidence for food consumption and livelihood change, nutritional status, and mortality, FEWS NET relied on multiple layers of assumptions and inference.” 

Excuse me?

They say that are assumptions and inference are “generally standard practice” (so maybe change your standard practices?) but then acknowledge, rightfully, that “the limitations of available evidence… leads to a very high level of uncertainty regarding the current food security and nutritional status of the population.”

So the entire narrative about famine in Gaza, the ICC charges of Israeli officials over starvation as a war crime, and the international pressure on Israel to stop operations in Rafah – the infinite ammo given to the rabid anti-Israel movement over the last few months – that was all based on uncertainty, assumptions, and inference?

Thanks so much, you guys, great work. 

* * *

So, bottom, is there famine in Gaza? The FRC says there’s not enough information to know for sure. But the evidence they do have points “no.”

I do have to include the FRC’s overall points that they emphasize in the introduction: whether or not there is technically famine “does not in any manner change the fact that extreme human suffering is without a doubt currently ongoing in the Gaza Strip.” And, I mean, I don’t think anyone on any part of the pro-Israel/anti-Israel spectrum is unaware that life in Gaza is really hard right now. If it needs to be repeated, I’ll repeat it: people in Gaza are truly suffering, in large part because Hamas is stealing large portions of the aid and because the UN is failing to distribute 1,000 truckloads (and counting) of aid that is currently just sitting at the border.

But the truth still matters. It matters in principle and it matters in the daily international campaign to pressure Israel to stop the war before achieve our objectives. It matters because it confirms that Israel “not delivering enough aid to Gaza” is, as we’ve been saying for months, slander. It matters because support from our allies hinges on what’s actually going on in this war.

And what’s going on is the constant blurring of the truth to fit one narrative – as it always has been when it’s about Israel – and it’s exhausting. If I had to boil it down to one main takeaway? It’s not possible to know exactly what’s going on in a war-zone in real time. Let’s remind the world to stop pretending like they do.

About the Author
Rachel Lester served in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit for four years, creating videos for the IDF's millions of social media followers and running the international video department as creative director. She was called into reserves on October 7 and stayed for six months. Rachel is an alumna of the University of Southern California and holds a Masters in Government from Reichman University.
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