Let's Fix This Country
the gaza war

Biden Finally Reacts as Gaza War Arrives at Starvation

In a sudden turnabout, as the war reached the half-year mark, Israel has withdrawn its forces from the southern end of the Gaza Strip and ceasefire talks have resumed in Cairo. Warnings of famine from several organizations, and the killing of seven members of World Central Kitchens, a charity that had brought a shipload of food for the starving population, finally was enough for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to end months of feckless pleading by issuing an implicit threat that aid to Israel might be in jeopardy:

"Right now there is no higher priority in Gaza than protecting civilians, surging humanitarian assistance, and insuring the security of those who provide it. Israel must meet this moment...If we don't see the changes that we need to see, there'll be changes in our own policy."

Whether the president would actually follow through on that veiled threat is questionable. Having immediately after the Hamas atrocities declared U.S. support of Israel to be "ironclad", he has since had to confront what he called Israel's "over the top" killing of Palestinian civilians and worry about a critical percentage of voters in the battleground state primaries who protested his inaction by marking their ballots "uncommitted".

But the threat was enough to cause Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu to finally back down after months of defying Biden. Of paramount importance, hundreds of trucks, in numbers close to the 500 a day that Gaza customarily needs, have been entering Gaza in recent days.

Calling Netanyahu's approach to the war "a mistake", Biden said after a phone call with Netanyahu that "He agreed to do several things that related to, number one, getting more aid, both food and medicine, into Gaza" and to reducing significantly civilian casualties.

With the Palestinian health ministry saying that over 36,000 are dead, It took far too long for Biden to reach this point.


It's been four months since our "Gaza Made Uninhabitable as Uprooted Population Becomes Refugees". The devastations of the war have only gotten worse. It is difficult to keep up with day-to-day reports. For now, a recap is more revealing about where this war has been and where it is going:

Just as it had done in October when it dropped a 2,000 pound bomb in the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp, killing dozens of civilians and obliterating city blocks in order allegedly to kill a single leader of the October 7th attack, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) continued to use blockbusting bombs (supplied by the U.S.) , such as in the southern Al-Maghazi neighborhood that killed dozens of the over a million Palestinians who had been ordered to move south where they would supposedly be safe. Statements that “the I.D.F. regrets the harm to uninvolved individuals" routinely followed such incidents, with promises to investigate, but the bombings continued in a campaign that gave rise to a new word — urbicide — the obliteration of a city — housing, hospitals, schools — such that there is left nothing to return to.

The civilian population has been driven to hurriedly form tent cities, ultimately jammed into Rafeh, the southernmost city, only to be told they will soon be forced to move a few clicks north again to make way for Netanyahu's assault on Rafeh, on a date he says he has chosen but has not revealed.

People spend their days scavenging for food and foraging for wild plants. A woman tells a reporter about ground barley to make pita: "I can't even describe how awful it tastes." Several accounts have people grinding animal feed to make bread.

"Adults say their hair and teeth are falling out and fingernails are breaking, signs of malnutrition", a Wall Street Journal report says. It recounts the tribulations of a family in the north, in Gaza City, who consume only water and tea some days in order to save for their children what bread they have been able to make, who otherwise stave off hunger pains by swallowing spoonfuls of ground thyme at night so they can sleep. The New York Times, in a piece about what people are going through to find food, recounts a father who…

"found a small amount of rice at a street vendor’s table, and a day later found [a] portion of flour — after a five-hour search. The discovery made the family feel festive."

There is a lack of toilets, with lines of people waiting for an hour or more for access. There is open sewage. Cases of diarrhea among children have zoomed; all is linked to poor sanitation, according to UNICEF, the U.N. agency for children. They and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the local affiliate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said they have tried to bring in portable toilets, but the Israeli authorities prevented them.

“At the moment, anything that is considered construction material — mostly metal, but also sandwich panels, nails, reinforcement rods — are all banned.”

They are reduced to building sanitation facilities from what can be scavenged from the rubble of destroyed buildings.

The World Health Organization reports that hepatitis A has spread, as indicated by several thousand with jaundice. Thousands have lost limbs — about 12,000 , including about 5,000 children estimates Red Crescent, and that was only by the end of December — but, hospitals destroyed, they cannot get treatment and shortages of antibiotics mean infections turn deadly.

choke point

During all six months, Israel's limitation of two entry points at the base of the Gaza Strip have meant that trucks must drive the length of Gaza, through a war zone, to reach the north — if not denied access by the IDF. Israel claims that it placed no limits on the amount of food that could come in, but the U.N. says that in January and February more than half of its missions to the north were denied permission on security grounds. The Red Crescent has been disallowed to deliver food or medical aid to the north since the end of November's short cease-fire.

A freighter with 90,000 metric tons of flour paid for by the U.S. was held for weeks at the Israeli port of Ashdod because Israeli customs authorities refused to clear a shipment destined for Palestinians. In February, Israeli protesters blocked aid trucks from entering at the Kerem Shalom crossing for days.

U.N. agencies and charities suspended food delivery altogether in early February when a convoy was hit by Israeli navy fire. Only the U.N.'s World Food Program tried again. But in mid-March, instead of a military escort shepherding the WFP's fourteen trucks as they headed north to aid the desperate, the military turned them back; they said roads were crowded and unsafe. The upshot? Crowds stormed the trucks and made off with 200 tons of food. And yet, Israel blames food shortages on the U.N. for faulty distribution.

At the end of February, thousands who had camped out overnight along the coastal road awaiting a food convoy rushed the 30 trucks when they arrived before dawn. More than 110 people died and 700 others were wounded — some trampled, some run over by the trucks trying to extricate themselves, others then shot by Israeli troops escorting the convoy. The military said most had died in the stampede, that soldiers had opened fire only “when the mob moved in a manner that endangered them.” The Gazan health ministry said the opposite, that it had been a "massacre". Doctors at Gaza hospitals said gunshots accounted for most of the casualties.

In early March, the U.S. finally took action, dropping 38,000 military MRE (meals ready to eat) packets onto the coastal beaches. Egypt, Jordan, and Belgium also parachuted food in. It was a desperate stopgap that couldn't possibly fill the need of 2.2 million people.

power vacuum

There was no plan for an administrative authority to take control after driving out Hamas, with the result that anarchy prevails in central and northern patches of the Strip.

Netanyahu refused to open further crossings than the two in the south at the border with Egypt until hostages were returned, thereby inflicting the collective article illustration
punishment on the civilian population that has led to the edge of starvation. Every truck entering was thoroughly searched for supplies that might be intended for Hamas, greatly slowing aid to too few trucks a day. It took months of the Biden administration pressuring Israel to finally open a crossing in the north to bring aid to the possibly half million people there who never joined the forced migration south.

hospitals again besieged

In mid-March, Israeli forces repeated their assaults on Gaza hospitals — al Shia in Gaza City in the north, and Nassar and al-Amal hospitals in Khan Younis in the south — which Hamas fighters use as bases of operations. But thousands of displaced Palestinians find shelter in the hospital compounds. Al-Amal went of out serviced entirely when staff and patients were ordered to leave and bulldozers piled dirt into berms to seal off entrances.

Thirteen died at al Shifa, according to Gaza authorities, when the IDF cut electricity and life-sustaining machines went silent. The Israeli military said it was “avoiding harm to civilians, patients, medical teams and medical equipment”, but medical staff and patients were trapped inside for days with almost no food or water. One who escaped the hospital complex said men were detained, stripped, and interrogated by Israeli soldiers who attempted to sort out civilians from Hamas militants. Some who tried to leave the hospital were shot by Israeli soldiers as the firefight raged for days. A Palestinian teenager described bodies piled up outside al Shifa's entrance.

The renewed battle for hospitals made clear that the Israeli strategy of total destruction as a means to kill Hamas fighters has not been all that effective. Militants had seeped back into areas the IDF controlled in the early months of the war and Israel — who evidently paid too little attention to the American experience in Iraq — was finding that they have on their hands an insurgency that probably knows no end.


Experts from the United Nations, relief agencies, and research groups — which together go by the initials IPC — concluded that famine is imminent in north Gaza, that the zone is experiencing the most acute hunger crisis of anywhere in the world.

Just prior to Netanyahu's relenting, Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Program (and widow of Sen. John McCain), sounded the alarm:

"There is a very small window left to prevent an outright famine, and to do that we need immediate and full access to the north. If we wait until famine has been declared, it’s too late. Thousands more will be dead.”

UNICEF found that rapidly deepening food deprivation in the Gaza Strip was causing life-threatening “severe wasting” in children. Michael Ryan, an executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, did not mince words: “This is a population that is starving to death.” The United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, called for “an immediate humanitarian cease-fire”, saying that the report of imminent famine was “an appalling indictment” of Israel.

triumph overcome by tragedy

It was a celebratory moment when the first ship to make deliveries to Gaza in almost two decades — towing a barge with about 200 tons of rice, flour, lentils, and canned tuna, beef, and chicken provided by World Central Kitchens — tied up at a makeshift pier they had made out of rubble.

Then just days later, three WCK vehicles, driving along the humanitarian corridor coastal road late at night for having been held up for hours at an Israeli checkpoint, were pursued by an IDF drone team which killed the seven workers. The military took responsibility, conducted an instant investigation, dismissed a couple of officers, and said it was a matter of misidentification — "friendly fire", a spokesperson insistently called it.

Spain's José Andrés, a naturalized American citizen, a world-renowned chef and restaurateur now far more world-renowned for the extraordinarily effective charity he founded, would have none of it:

"They were target [sic] systematically, car-by-car. Because they were not successful in hitting, they keep trying. This happened more than 1.5, 1.8 kilometers. This was not just bad luck situation where, oops, we dropped the bomb in the wrong place...Humanitarians and civilians should never be paying the consequences of war. This is a basic principle of humanity. At the time this looks like is not a war against terrorism anymore. Seems is a war against humanity itself."

He posted on X, "The seven angels killed on a @WCKitchen mission in Gaza on Monday were the best of humanity."

To be continued: claims and counterclaims, taking sides, questionable strategy, world opinion.

What’s Your View?

Are you the only serious one in your crowd?
No? Then how about recommending us to your serious friends.

Already a subscriber?
We are always seeking new readers. Help this grow by forwarding a link to this page to your address list. Tell them they're missing something if they don't sign up. You'll all have something to talk about together.

Not a suscriber? Sign up and we'll send you email notices when we have new material.
Just click HERE to join.
Are you the only serious one in your crowd?
No? Then how about recommending us to your serious friends.

Already a subscriber?
We are always seeking new readers. Help this grow by forwarding a link to this page to your address list. Tell them they're missing something if they don't sign up. You'll all have something to talk about together.

Not a suscriber? Sign up and we'll send you email notices when we have new material.
Just click HERE to join.