Israel used ‘calorie count’ to limit Gaza food during blockade, critics claim

The Guardian:

The Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza’s daily calorie needs to avoid malnutrition during a blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory between 2007 and mid-2010, according to files the defence ministry released on Wednesday under a court order.

Israel says it never limited how many calories were available to Gaza, but critics claimed the document was proof the government limited food supplies to put pressure on Hamas.

At the height of the blockade Israel also maintained a list of foods that were permitted and banned from Gaza.

Major Guy Inbar, an Israeli military spokesman, said the calculation, based on a person’s average requirement of 2,300 calories a day, was meant to identify warning signs to help avoid a humanitarian crisis, and that it was never used to restrict the flow of food.

The analysis included adjustments for local farm products as well as an assessment of the kinds of food imports needed to sustain the population.

The Israeli advocacy group Gisha, which aims to protect the rights of Palestinian residents, waged a long court battle to release the document. Its members say Israel calculated the calorie needs for Gaza’s population so as to restrict the quantity of food it allowed in.