News Release

Escalating Disease Coming from Israel’s Assaults: “Predictable”


KATHY KELLY,, @voiceinwild
Kelly is board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal.

She just wrote the piece “Predicting Pestilence” for The Progressive magazine. She writes: “Those with influence among authorities in Israel and the United States must reckon not only with the reckless carnage they are inflicting on children, but they must also grasp the likelihood of an exponentially increased death toll from battlefield illnesses afflicting children.” She writes that the surviving Palestinian children in Gaza “live amid ominous pre-conditions for outbreaks of water-borne diseases: a mounting number of unburied corpses, unsafe drinking water, overcrowding in impromptu mass shelters where sick people are denied any access to health care, and a breakdown of basic sewage and sanitation systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that Gaza is ‘on the precipice of major disease outbreaks.’ …

“’Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than from bombardment if we are not able to put back together this health system,’ said Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the WHO.    “Yet without electricity and fuel, it’s impossible to repair Gaza’s collapsed health care system. Israeli authorities cut off Gaza’s electricity supply after October 11, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and fuel reserves for Gaza’s sole power plant have been dangerously depleted.      “History repeatedly shows that children in war zones bear the brunt of punishment as bombing wars give way to even more lethal economic wars, and what ought to be regarded as biological warfare against children. (It’s noteworthy that Israel is one of only eight world nations not to have signed the Biological Weapons Convention.)    “The suffering inflicted on Iraqi children following the 1991 war and ensuing years of merciless economic sanctions is well known to both United States and Israeli authorities.    “When the U.S. Operation Desert Storm bombing war against Iraq ended on February 28, 1991, a new kind of warfare proved far more devastating than even the worst of the bombing. By 1995, U.N. workers recognized that children were dying, first by the hundreds, then by the thousands, and eventually by the hundreds of thousands because economic sanctions prevented necessary access to medicines, clean water, and adequate food.”

See “Pentagon Documents Show U.S. Intentionally Used Sanctions to Destroy Iraq’s Water Supply” by Tom Nagy.

Kelly also notes: “A similar pattern emerges if we turn our gaze toward the Saudi aerial bombardment of Yemen from 2015 to 2018. The Saudi attacks against vital sewage and sanitation facilities, and against the electrical plants which powered them, contributed to severe shortages of potable water. The Saudis were also known to bomb sites where Yemenis were digging their own wells.    “A report from Save the Children, issued in November 2018, estimated that at least 85,000 children died from extreme hunger since the war began in 2015. The worst cholera outbreak ever recorded infected 2.26 million and cost nearly 4,000 lives. …

“The health system of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has long been plagued by underfunding and the effects of the blockade imposed by Israel in 2007.    “In early 2023, an estimated 97 percent of water in the enclave was unfit to drink, and more than 12 percent of child mortality cases were caused by waterborne ailments. Diseases including typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A are very rare in areas with functional and adequate water systems. …   “We can’t help but ask whether Israeli officials, intent on continuing the war for possibly as long as a year, see the potential for widespread disease as motivation for families to leave Gaza, accepting massive ethnic cleansing that would displace them beyond Gaza’s borders.”

See Kelly’s past pieces.

Note: The singer David Rovics has released a series of songs about Israel’s attack on Gaza, the most recent being “Famine and Disease