Declassified report reveals Israel set calorie limit for Gaza

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Palestinian men stand behind a net where migrant quails are snared on the beach of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip on September 25, 2012. Palestinians erect hundreds of meters of yellow silk nets along the coastline in the Gaza Strip to hunt migratory birds, mainly quails, which start arriving to the coasts of the Mediterranean in the second half of September of each year. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB

Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Israel's Health Ministry devised nutritional “red lines” to help the military decide on how much food to import to Palestinians during the most stifling periods of its blockade on the Gaza Strip between 2007 and 2010, a secret presentation released by court order Wednesday showed.

The presentation, named “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip—Red Lines” shows that food imports to Gaza were cut by nearly 75 percent, from 400 trucks per day to 106 by the start of the blockade. Tables compiled by the Health Ministry dictated that 2,279 calories per person would be the needed intake to avoid malnutrition in Gaza, and assorted food groups to be imported accordingly.

According to Britain's National Health Service, the average man needs 2,500 calories to maintain his weight and a woman requires 2,000.

However, the presentation does not take into account consumption disparity among Gazans, assuming that all would consume equally within the minimal rations. In reality, rich Gazans bite into a significant portion of the allowed intake, leaving poor Gazans much lower amounts than designated minimal calorie levels, a likely cause of a UN outcry about Gaza, calling the besieged strip a “humanitarian crisis.”

In 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed a “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza's population,” forcing people to cut household expenditures to “survival levels”.

“Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern,” said the ICRC report.

Wikileaks has published diplomatic cables revealing that Israel told US officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza's economy “on the brink of collapse”.

Israel's Defense Ministry has denied that the document, ordered by a Security-Political Cabinet decision in September 2007, was ever used. However, then Defense Minister Matan Vilnai has expressly stated that 106 trucks—the exact number prescribed by the presentation—were carrying food into Gaza during the time of the siege.



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