IN the midst of total war, most do not die because of the violence.

Take Yemen, an impoverished nation devastated by war involving multiple combatants, including a Western-backed Saudi military onslaught. It’s estimated that around 377,000 Yemenis were killed between 2015 and 2022. But note that 60% are believed to have been killed because of indirect causes, such as food insecurity and lack of accessible health services.

And so is the likely fate of Gaza. Yemen itself underlines the scale of catastrophe the Israeli state has unleashed against the Palestinian people. Yemen’s population is around 15 times bigger than that of Yemen. Once you include those buried under the rubble – officially classed as missing, but most are long dead – more than 38,000 Palestinians are estimated by independent NGO Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor to have suffered violent deaths, and those figures are more than a week old. Adjust for population size, and that is the equivalent of 570,000 Yemenis. In other words: a significantly higher proportion of Gaza’s population has been killed in the space of five months than Yemen’s population over the course of seven years.

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It gets much worse. This is not comparing like and like. This is a comparison between Palestinians who have suffered violent deaths and Yemenis who have been killed by all war-related causes.

We do not know how many Gazans are already dying because of hunger – though there are now documented cases of deaths caused by starvation – or, for example, the absence of medical services to treat underlying health conditions.

In other words, we do not actually know how many Palestinians have been killed: we can only be sure it is a much higher proportion than that suffered by Yemen over a much longer time period in what we can all agree has been a calamitous war in its own right.

Why this macabre comparison? Because it underlines the gravity of the crime. At the end of January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) placed Israel on trial for alleged genocide, and then issued a series of provisional orders to prevent genocide. One of these was “immediate and effective measures” to ensure Palestinians receive sufficient humanitarian assistance.

Then what happened almost immediately? The ICJ was driven off the headlines by dramatic new claims by Israel’s authorities linking the UN’s agency for the welfare of Palestinians – UNRWA – to the October 7 attacks. The claim: that 12 members had been involved. This claim proved sufficient for the US and a series of other Western states – including the UK, but crucially not the Scottish Government – to suspend all funding, financially throttling the body.

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To be clear, this act should itself be considered genocidal. UNRWA is Gaza’s main humanitarian agency. It is absolutely essential to the lives and welfare of Gaza’s population at the best of times. Well, these times are apocalyptic.

When these states pulled the plug, they knew that 80% of the world’s hungriest people were in Gaza. They knew that Gaza’s healthcare system had been violently dismantled by Israel. They also knew that Israel was doing everything it could to obstruct humanitarian aid from entering, in line with Israel’s defence minister’s promise to impose a total siege against Gaza’s “human animals”. Throttling the main humanitarian agency in the midst of this was to issue a death sentence against countless Palestinians.

The rationale was preposterous on its own terms. UNRWA has 30,000 employees, so the allegations were against 0.04% of its staff. If that’s justification for cutting funds, it would mean shutting down every institution on earth. And on what evidence? US secretary of state Antony Blinken said: “We haven’t had the ability to investigate [the allegations] ourselves. But they are highly, highly credible.” UNRWA itself had abandoned due process by sacking the 12 without Israel offering any evidence – that didn’t save them.

Every year, it provides lists of staff to the Israeli intelligence services for vetting. And when the likes of Channel 4 News finally got a copy of Israel’s dossier, they found no evidence to back the state’s allegations. And today, a month on, UN investigators announced there has still been no evidence. And now the EU has finally announced it will restore funding. Let us be clear.

This alone is a scandal of historic proportions. Without evidence, on the say so of a state with a track record of flagrant deceit, in the midst of an unimaginable catastrophe, when the highest court on earth ordered access to humanitarian aid to prevent genocide, the West went to war with Gaza’s main humanitarian agency.

According to a new detailed study, around 5% of Gaza’s population may be dead by August. It will be the hunger and lack of medical care which prove more fatal than the bombs and bullets. The Scottish Government’s position – bucking the trend of throttling UNRWA – has been vindicated, while the Tory-Labour consensus has been utterly morally disgraced. History will be a savage judge.