“It’s like a meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death.”
Now the cold calculus of Israeli near-starvation policy has been exposed in detail:
After a three-and-a-half-year legal battle waged by the Gisha human rights organization, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has finally released a 2008 document that detailed its "red lines" for "food consumption in the Gaza Strip."
The document calculates the minimum number of calories necessary, in COGAT's view, to keep Gaza residents from malnutrition at a time when Israel was tightening its restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Strip, including food products and raw materials. The document states that Health Ministry officials were involved in drafting it, and the calculations were based on "a model formulated by the Ministry of Health ... according to average Israeli consumption," though the figures were then "adjusted to culture and experience" in Gaza.
In September 2007, the cabinet, then headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, decided to tighten restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip. The "red lines" document was written about four months afterward.
The cabinet decision stated that "the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip will be restricted; the supply of gas and electricity will be reduced; and restrictions will be imposed on the movement of people from the Strip and to it." In addition, exports from Gaza would be forbidden entirely. However, the resolution added, the restrictions should be tailored to avoid a "humanitarian crisis."
The "red lines" document calculates the minimum number of calories needed by every age and gender group in Gaza, then uses this to determine the quantity of staple foods that must be allowed into the Strip every day, as well as the number of trucks needed to carry this quantity. On average, the minimum worked out to 2,279 calories per person per day, which could be supplied by 1,836 grams of food, or 2,575.5 tons of food for the entire population of Gaza.
Bringing this quantity into the Strip would require 170.4 truckloads per day, five days a week.
From this quantity, the document's authors then deducted 68.6 truckloads to account for the food produced locally in Gaza mainly vegetables, fruit, milk and meat. The documents note that the Health Ministry's data about various products includes the weight of the package (about 1 to 5 percent of the total weight) and that "The total amount of food takes into consideration 'sampling' by toddlers under the age of 2 (adds 34 tons per day to the general population)."
From this total, 13 truckloads were deducted to adjust for the "culture and experience" of food consumption in Gaza, though the document does not explain how this deduction was calculated.
While this adjustment actually led to a higher figure for sugar (five truckloads, compared to only 2.6 under the Health Ministry's original model),
it reduced the quantity of fruits and vegetables (18 truckloads, compared to 28.5), milk (12 truckloads instead of 21.1), and meat and poultry (14 instead of 17.2).