Holodomor of Palestinians calls for urgent global attention

By Azril Mohd Amin

IN the annals of history, the term “genocide” is often associated with harrowing events like the holocaust or the Rwandan genocide.

Yet, there exists a lesser-known but equally devastating tragedy — the Holodomor, a man-made famine imposed by the Soviet regime in Ukraine during the early 1930s.

Today, as we confront the ongoing atrocities against the Palestinians, we are witnessing another form of Holodomor — a deliberate strategy of starvation, employed by the Israeli regime as a weapon of oppression. It is high time we recognise this for what it is — a genocide.

According to the February 2024 United Nations (UN) Global Nutrition Cluster report, titled “Nutrition Vulnerability and Situation Analysis — Gaza”, children under the age of two in northern Gaza, are experiencing alarming rates of acute malnutrition, with nearly 16 per cent of them affected by malnutrition or wasting.

Shockingly, close to three per cent are suffering from severe wasting, placing them at severe risk of medical complications or death without immediate intervention.

Disturbing reports have emerged, indicating that parents are resorting to feeding their children animal feed in desperation to sustain them.

In Rafah, an area targeted by intense Israeli military assaults, five per cent of children under two years old are acutely malnourished, marking a significant increase from pre-conflict levels where only 0.8 per cent of children under five were acutely malnourished.

The malnutrition crisis is exacerbated by the broader humanitarian emergency in Gaza. Even before the current conflict, half of Gazans faced food insecurity and nearly 80 per cent relied on humanitarian aid due to the 16-year blockade.

The combination of hunger and disease has led to a deadly cycle, with at least 90 per cent of children under five, affected by one or more infectious diseases.

The gravity of the situation facing Palestinians in Gaza has been unequivocally underscored by Michael Fakhri, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who has explicitly stated that Israel’s deliberate starvation of Palestinians constitutes both war crimes and genocide.

In Fakhri’s recent statement to The Guardian, he has revealed how his assessment aligns with the stark reality on the ground, where hunger and severe malnutrition afflict approximately 2.2 million Palestinians.

Israel’s systematic destruction of food supplies and severe restrictions on humanitarian aid, have plunged the population into a state of dire need.

Fakhri’s assertion echoes the principles enshrined in international law, particularly the Geneva Conventions (1949) and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948).

The Geneva Conventions, notably the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, prohibit collective punishment, starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and the deliberate destruction of objects, indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, including food and water supplies.

Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have resulted in widespread hunger and malnutrition, flagrantly violate these fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.

His characterisation of Israel’s actions as genocide invokes the legal framework established by the convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

According to this convention, genocide entails acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. These acts include not only killing members of the group but also deliberately inflicting conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.

The deliberate starvation of Palestinians, coupled with the destruction of essential infrastructure and resources, constitutes a clear violation of this convention.

The severity of the crisis in Gaza is further underscored by historical precedents and case laws related to starvation genocide.

The Holodomor serves as a poignant example of the devastating consequences of deliberate starvation as a tool of oppression as elucidated by Raphael Lemkin in his work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress” (1944).

The international community’s failure to recognize and intervene in the Holodomor stands as a stark reminder of the importance of addressing starvation genocide and holding perpetrators, accountable.

In the spirit of Ramadan, a month of fasting, reflection and compassion, Muslims around the world are called upon not only to fulfil their religious obligation but also to stand in solidarity with the hungry and oppressed.

As we abstain from food and drink from dawn till dusk, we are reminded of the plight of millions who face chronic hunger and deprivation, particularly the Palestinian people who have endured starvation and oppression for far too long.

Ramadan serves as a powerful reminder of the blessings of sustenance and the responsibility to share those blessings with others.

It is a time for self-reflection, empathy and action. As we feel the pangs of hunger during our fast, let us remember those who endure hunger not by choice but by circumstance — those who face starvation as a result of conflict, displacement and systemic oppression.

In the case of Palestinians living under Israel’s illegal occupation, Ramadan offers an opportunity to amplify our voices and demand an end to the starvation genocide they endure.

We fast not only for our own spiritual growth but also to draw attention to the injustice and suffering faced by our brothers and sisters in Palestine. We fast with purpose, with the intention of bringing about positive change and alleviating the suffering of the oppressed.

It is incumbent upon Muslims and people of conscience worldwide to heed the call of Ramadan and take meaningful action to end the starvation genocide in Palestine. This includes raising awareness, advocating for justice and supporting humanitarian efforts to provide essential aid and assistance to those in need.

It means using our voices, our resources, and our influence to challenge oppression and work towards a world where all people can live with dignity and security.

As we gather with family and friends to break our fast each evening, please take a pause, and intensify our prayers to Allah the Almighty. Let us remember the millions of Palestinians who do not have enough to eat, who do not have clean water to drink and who do not have access to basic healthcare.

In the spirit of Ramadan, let us renew our commitment to compassion, generosity and solidarity. Let us turn our hunger into a force for change and work together to end the starvation genocide in Palestine and beyond.

Ramadan Kareem.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2024/03/1025692/holodomor-palestinians-calls-urgent-global-attention

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