The outcome of the war in Ukraine and Israeli policies

Palestinians need immediate attention to stave off a major food crisis

  • A kitchen in Gaza distributes food to the poor, as the Strip suffers from the crisis of high food prices.

    archival

  • The apartheid wall does not only separate Israelis and Palestinians, but also deprives them of large parts of their agricultural lands.

    EPA

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One of my friends in Gaza, the young lawyer Muhammad Rafiq Mahawish, told me that food prices in the Gaza Strip have skyrocketed in recent weeks, and that many families, who are already poor, are struggling to secure a living for their children.

"Food prices have risen illogically, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine," he said, and the prices of staples such as wheat and meat have nearly doubled.

For example, the price of a kilo of chicken, which a small part of the population of Gaza could buy, rose from six dollars to about 14 dollars.

Oxfam warns

The problem of high prices can be managed in some parts of the world, but the Gaza Strip, which is already suffering from poverty, and the Israeli military blockade for 15 years, is certainly facing a major humanitarian crisis.

In fact, the international charity Oxfam warned of this crisis when a report by the organization warned that food prices throughout the occupied Palestinian territories had increased by 25%, but the most alarming thing was that the flour reserves in these lands “could run out.” Within three weeks,” according to “Oxfam.”

The impact of the war in Ukraine appeared on most parts of the world, in varying degrees.

African and Middle Eastern countries, which already suffer from poverty, hunger and unemployment problems, were the most affected by this war.

But Palestine is an entirely different story, as it is an occupied country and is totally dependent on its occupying power, Israel, which refuses to abide by humanitarian and international laws.

rationing

For the Palestinians, this issue is complex, but all its features are related to the occupying power, Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering from the Israeli economic blockade for several years, and the quantities of foodstuffs that Israel allows to enter are subject to rationing and manipulation as a form of collective punishment for the Strip.

In its report issued last February, Amnesty International spoke about the Israeli apartheid policy against the Palestinians, and about the details of the Israeli restrictions imposed on food and gas supplies to the Palestinians.

According to the organization, Israel uses “calculations to determine the quantities of foodstuffs that it allows to enter the Gaza Strip, so that these materials are sufficient only to feed the people of the Strip and keep them alive.”

Apart from many of the infrastructure issues resulting from the blockade, such as the lack of drinking water, electricity, and agricultural equipment, the Gaza Strip lost a lot of arable land after it was annexed to the military zone established by Israel along the area adjacent to the Strip.

The West Bank is no better off

The West Bank is also not in a better condition, as most Palestinians living in the occupied territories feel the increasing burden caused by the Israeli occupation, accompanied by the devastating effects of the Corona pandemic, and the structural weakness of the Palestinian Authority, which suffers from widespread corruption and mismanagement.

The Palestinian Authority imports 95% of its wheat consumption, according to Oxfam, and has no storage facilities of any kind.

This revenue is channeled through Israel, which controls all Palestinian contact with the outside world.

Given that Israel itself imports half of its grain from Ukraine, the Palestinians remain hostage to this mechanism.

Although Israel hoards its food and is largely energy independent, the Palestinians are struggling on all fronts.

While the Palestinian Authority has to bear part of the support and investment in its security apparatus at the expense of its food security, Israel holds most of the keys to the survival of the Palestinians.

Given the proliferation of military checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank, dividing and isolating communities, as well as farmers from their agricultural lands, the establishment of sustainable agriculture in the Palestinian territories is impossible.

separation wall

There are two issues that complicate this already complex scene. The first is what is known as the apartheid wall, which is more than hundreds of kilometers long, and which not only separates Israelis and Palestinians, but also illegally deprives Palestinians of large parts of their agricultural lands, and the second is The illegal theft of Palestinian water from underground water pockets in the West Bank.

While Palestinian communities struggle to find drinking water in the summer, Israel does not experience water shortages all year round.

The crisis is completely artificial

Even if the war in Ukraine stops, food insecurity will continue in the Palestinian territories, because it is mainly caused by long-term Israeli policies and plans.

In the case of Gaza, the crisis is entirely artificial, based on a pre-established Israeli plan.

Israeli government advisor Dov Weisglass was not ashamed in 2006 when he spoke about the goal of the blockade of Gaza, saying: "The idea behind the siege is to make the Palestinians live on a programmed diet, but we will not let them starve to death."

Palestinians need more attention in order to stave off a major food crisis.

In fact, the Gaza Strip, which is already suffering from poverty and high unemployment, cannot bear more disasters.

But any assistance provided to the Palestinians would be a short-term reform. A dialogue should take place between the Arab countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and other parties, with the aim of discussing and resolving the Palestinian food insecurity crisis, as it constitutes a real existential threat to them.

Zone "C"

The so-called "Area C", which constitutes 60% of the total area of ​​the West Bank, is still under comprehensive Israeli military occupation.

It contains most of the agricultural land in the region, especially the areas in the highly fertile Jordan Valley.

Although Israel officially postponed the annexation of Area C, in practice the area is in a state of Israeli annexation, as Palestinians are slowly being expelled from it and replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.

The rapid rise in food prices is causing great harm to farmers and ranchers, who are responsible for filling the gap caused by global food instability caused by the war.

According to Oxfam, the prices of livestock feed have increased by 60% in the West Bank, which adds more “existing burdens” and increases “forced displacement”, as is the case in the ethnic cleansing resulting from Israeli annexation policies.

* Ramzi Baroud ■ Palestinian journalist and writer

• The Gaza Strip has been suffering from the Israeli economic blockade for several years, and the quantities of foodstuffs that Israel allows to enter are subject to rationing and manipulation as a form of collective punishment for the Strip.


• The Palestinian Authority imports 95% of its wheat consumption, according to Oxfam, and it has no storage facilities of any kind.

This revenue is channeled through Israel, which controls all Palestinian contact with the outside world.


• Although Israel officially postponed the annexation of Area C, the area is practically in a state of Israeli annexation, as the Palestinians are slowly being expelled from it and replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.

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