“Starving a million innocent people to death by halting and slowing U.S. humanitarian assistance is a massive, deliberate choice.”

by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday reiterated her description of the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza as a “forced famine” and pushed back on the Netanyahu government’s claim that it is targeting militants who carried out the October 7 attack.

“There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told CNN‘s Jake Tapper just two days after she delivered a floor speech characterizing conditions on the ground in Gaza as “an unfolding genocide.”


The New York Democrat said Sunday that she believes the Israeli government’s conduct in Gaza—from obstructing aid shipments to bombing densely populated areas—”have crossed the threshold of intent,” a necessary condition of genocide.

“It is horrific,” she said, noting that the even U.S. State Department has admitted the Israeli government is intentionally stonewalling aid deliveries, fueling starvation across the territory.

Asked to respond to the Israeli government’s claim that the war would end within a day if Hamas released all the remaining hostages and dropped its arms, Ocasio-Cortez said, “The actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a three-year-old can eat.”

“The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves,” she continued. “The Israeli government has a right to go after Hamas, but we are talking about a population of millions of innocent Palestinians. We are talking about collective punishment.”

In a social media post following her CNN appearance, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that “starving a million innocent people to death by halting and slowing U.S. humanitarian assistance is a massive, deliberate choice.”

The post came in response to criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has been described as “Israel’s Attack Dog in the U.S.” The group declared that the Israeli military is working to “cripple Hamas terrorists” and said those warning of genocide “merely perpetuate false claims and foster hate.”

Ocasio-Cortez replied that the starvation Israel is inflicting on Gaza civilians with its suffocating blockade is both “irrelevant” to the government’s stated objective of targeting Hamas and brings it “further out of reach and endangers hostages.”

“There is no defense for forced famine,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The New York Democrat’s assessment of the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza mirrors that of United Nations experts, aid agencies, and humanitarian organizations.

On Sunday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)—the primary humanitarian aid organization operating in Gaza—said the Israeli government has informed the U.N. that it “will no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys” to the northern part of the enclave, which is facing famine.

In recent weeks, dozens of people have died of starvation and dehydration—most of them in northern Gaza.

“This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, said of Israel’s decision to fully cut off UNRWA food shipments to northern Gaza.

“By preventing UNRWA to fulfill its mandate in Gaza, the clock will tick faster towards famine and many more will die of hunger, dehydration, and lack of shelter,” he warned. “This cannot happen, it would only stain our collective humanity.”