For some time, we have been warned of an impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The occupied Gaza Strip faces “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, caused by over ten years of Israeli blockade, alongside an internal Palestinian divide”, and “restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on Rafah Crossing”, according to an update by the United Nations. Impressive graphs show rapidly falling ‘Food Security’ and ‘Food Quality’.
Putting aside the fact that the Gaza Strip is not occupied by anyone except Hamas, we wonder just how this humanitarian crisis manifests itself. A typical definition of a humanitarian crisis is “a singular event or series of events that is threatening in terms of health, safety or well-being of a community”. A major factor in most current humanitarian crises is starvation. Food shortages are endangering people’s lives in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. Oxfam reports that millions are on the brink of starvation.
As an example, the situation in South Sudan is catastrophic after more than four years of brutal civil war. For many farmers, harvests in late 2017 were poor or non-existent. Local markets have been disrupted and food stocks are seriously depleted. Over 7.1 million people – half the country’s population – are facing extreme and deadly hunger. That’s a humanitarian crisis.
We must assume from reports by such respected bodies as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) that there is famine in the Gaza Strip. Fortunately, relief has just arrived. A vehicle carrying three suitcases stuffed with $15 million in cash passed through the Erez crossing on Thursday. The money was given to Hamas by Qatar. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, who had not shown much concern for its starving compatriots in Gaza, rushed to accuse Hamas of “selling Palestinian blood” in return for $15 million.
Gaza’s starving population was quick to show its gratitude to Qatar for its generosity by pelting the convoy of the Qatari ambassador to the Palestinians, Mohammed Al-Emadi, with stones.
Perhaps the starving victims of the humanitarian crisis were wondering what they were going to do with $15 million in cash? “Let them eat cake” Marie-Antoinette, the queen of France during the French Revolution is alleged to have said on hearing that her starving peasant subjects had no bread.
Are starving Palestinians to eat dollars?
If there really is no food in the Strip, where is food going to come from now that Hamas has suitcases of dollars? With a population pushing 2 million, that’s a lot of food to find, transport and distribute.
If there is food in the strip but it is being hoarded and not given to the starving population, this is a terrible crime that must be investigated by the UN, and those responsible held to account. A responsible Hamas government, authority, call it what you like, would have set up soup kitchens for its starving people, as in all civilized countries.
So, we are left with two unanswered questions: where will the food come from and where will 15 million cash dollars go?