The Gaza Diet and Israel’s Politicization of Hunger

An Israeli court has forced the release of government research detailing the number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition.

The study was commissioned after Israel tightened its blockade of the territory after Hamas came to power in June 2007.

Dated from 2008 and entitled, Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – The Red Lines, it is a detailed study of how many calories Palestinians needed to eat to avoid malnutrition. It breaks foods down into various categories including meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit.

According to the BBC, in 2006, Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass was widely quoted as having said:

The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.

There can be no doubt that the diet devised for Gaza — much like Israel’s blockade in general — was intended as a form of collective punishment, one directed at every man, woman and child. The goal, according to the Israeli defense ministry, was to wage “economic warfare” that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas.

Those well versed in history would be quick to note that forcing starvation is standard operating procedure for powerful states wishing to affect the politics of weaker states.

Just look at the Cuba example.

By March 1960, just barely over a year after the Cuban Revolution, the U.S. decided that it was time to punish the Cuban people for allowing Castro to take power in Cuba.

The intent was to politicise hunger as a means of promoting popular disaffection, in the hope that driven by want and motivated by despair Cubans would rise up and oust Fidel Castro.

President Eisenhower approved economic sanctions in the hopes of starving the population.

Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, January 25, 1960, 11:15–11:55 a.m.

The President said that, if it comes to such conditions, we could quarantine Cuba. If they (the Cuban people) are hungry, they will throw Castro out.

Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mallory) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom):

The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship….it follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba…to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.

The beloved John F. Kennedy would continue the legacy of starving the Cuban people.

Theodore Sorensen, presidential adviser and speechwriter for Kennedy, wrote in Kennedy, (1965), Chapter 25:

Castro was hurt, though not mortally, by a lack of trade with the free world, a lack of spare parts and consumer goods, plummeting popularity throughout the hemisphere and rising discomfort among hungry Cubans.

One should not be too quick to judge the Israeli government, after all, they are just taking a page from the American playbook.

Thanks for reading,


Leave a Reply