The Israeli military meticulously and callously calculated the number of calories Gaza residents would need to consume in order not to starve, and used those calculations to inform how to impose a harsh economic blockade on the Palestinians, according to newly released documents.
In the January 2008 document, Israel decided to allow Gazans to eat 2,279 calories worth of food each day, as if they were dogs in a cage. They estimated therefore that they would allow 1,836 grams of food per person, per day.
The overwhelming blockade Israel imposed on Gaza, tightening restrictions on the movement of people and goods, was supposedly punishment for having Hamas in power.
“The official goal of the policy was to wage ‘economic warfare’ which would paralyze Gaza’s economy and, according to the Defense Ministry, create pressure on the Hamas government,” the Israeli human rights group Gisha, which fought the legal battle that led to the document’s release, said in a statement.
Israel’s general policy towards Gazans was summed up by Dov Weisglass, an adviser to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, years before the document was written.
“The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,” Weisglass said, claiming the hunger pangs are supposed to coerce Palestinians to force Hamas out of government.
Israel was accused of making these calculations prior to an Israeli court demanding its release on Wednesday, but they denied them outright. To have now proved themselves wrong is perhaps as embarrassing as the document’s release itself.
“How can Israel claim that it is not responsible for civilian life in Gaza when it controls even the type and quantity of food that Palestinian residents of Gaza are permitted to consume?” asked Sari Bashi, Gisha’s executive director, in a statement.
“Israel’s control over movement creates an obligation to allow free passage of civilians and civilian goods, subject only to security checks – an obligation that remains unfulfilled today.”