Since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge aggression against Gaza in summer 2014, the UN has repeatedly warned that Gaza will become unliveable by 2020. The illegal blockade, compounded with the widespread destruction from Israel’s aerial bombing, as well as its obstructions which prevent Gaza’s reconstruction, led to statements emphasising a rapid deterioration of Palestinians’ quality of life in the enclave.
The Palestinian Authority also exacerbated the humanitarian situation by imposing sanctions on Gaza to force Hamas to relinquish its rule. In 2018, Palestinians in Ramallah protested against the PA’s punitive measures and accused its leader Mahmoud Abbas of starving Palestinians in Gaza.
Less than one year has passed since the protests took place and the UN has issued another dire warning. If UNRWA does not secure enough financial aid to continue its operations, more than one million Palestinians in Gaza will be at risk of food insecurity by next month.
When it comes to issuing warnings, the UN takes centre stage. Its predictions reflect the political and humanitarian problems which Palestinians face daily. Yet the UN has still to issue a statement which affirms its responsibility in allowing Israel to create such deprived conditions. Of course, this will not happen. As long as Palestine is defined through humanitarian parameters, the UN retains its validity without facing accountability for its complicity.
After the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza, in which more families were displaced from their bombed homes, the UN issued statements marking Hamas as the instigator while completely eliminating Israel’s role in bringing Gaza a step closer to the 2020 prediction. The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms, the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel.”
Who is making Gaza unliveable? Definitely not the Palestinians.
There is a collective international responsibility when goes unmentioned when the UN cites a “near ten-fold increase” of Palestinians requiring food aid. It is beyond shameful that the international community facilitates Israel’s existence while overtly flaunting their irresponsibility in forcing Palestinian dependence on donor aid, which is never guaranteed and which exacerbates the humanitarian predicament.
The UN statement regarding an increase in Palestinian food dependency was issued after Israel terrorised the enclave once again with its bombing sprees. The Palestinian families who lost their homes are examples of how food dependency is created and maintained. Yet the UN preferred to focus on Hamas rocket fire in order to avoid linking additional Israeli aggression to the deprivation enforced upon Palestinians.
Additionally, the UN has only focused on donor aid which, as the US has recently demonstrated, is never a reliable option. The withdrawing of US funding from UNRWA will create a gap in the long run, with the financial deficit falling upon other countries. Despite this strategy being unsustainable, given that humanitarian aid is intended to cover only a brief period, the UN has refused the obvious alternative of holding Israel accountable and dismantling the colonial project, in order for Palestinians to regain their political rights.
It stands to reason that since the UN is wilfully shackling Palestinians to perpetual deprivation and dependency, maintaining the status quo is important for the UN’s international status and relevance. The institution’s human rights façade has been exposed, time and again, for committing serious violations. Yet the UN has also managed to normalise other forms of violence, including the infringement of international law while it masquerades as an organisation concerned with the wellbeing of the people whose rights it collaborates in infringing.
We will undoubtedly hear more about Palestine’s food insecurity as 2020 approaches. But, as happened in past occasions, the UN will maintain its strategy of keeping Palestinians deprived to prevent their legitimate liberation.