Hunger. This gnawing feeling is so tied to our human experience that the spiritual practice of fasting in order to bring us to this state of hunger is present in almost all religious holidays. From Ramadan to Lent, Yom Kippur to the Bahá’í fast, we are invited into a space of deeper communion with the divine and encouraged to focus on the needs of others rather than our own.

But fasting while Israel is starving Palestinians to death in Gaza feels uncomfortable. The minor hunger pangs are incomparable to the severe malnutrition and starvation. Twenty-eight Palestinians have died of hunger and another 600,000 people are currently in catastrophic levels of food insecurity. Famine is already occurring in the north of Gaza, and by May across the whole strip, putting 1.1 million people on the brink of death.

Meanwhile, hundreds of trucks line the streets leading to the border with Gaza, aid destined for starving Palestinians that is intentionally blocked by Israeli security forces. Even if it is eventually allowed in, the destruction in Gaza is so massive that trucks are not able to reach certain areas, mostly in the north. And the few aid deliveries that make it are death traps; Israeli soldiers have opened fire on people gathering for food, committing at least five massacres over the last few weeks.

Not only has Israel prevented food from entering, they have also actively destroyed food sources within Gaza including greenhouses, farms, wild plants and trees, as well as warehouses where food is stored. 

While Palestinians starve, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia continue to fund the Israeli military in blatant disregard for international law, complicit in the ongoing genocide. Canada took a turn this week though, voting on a motion to suspend arms exports to Israel. It is a one-way embargo, and it does not include the record-breaking arms approvals that were pushed through at the end of last year but it is an important step as the first G7 country to shift policy toward Israel. 

Hunger. A force used for spiritual discipline and abused for nefarious acts of collective punishment for political gain. May we demand a world where everyone has the right to break their fast in peace, surrounded by loved ones, and nourishing food.

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Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

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