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War on Gaza: Opening of first Shake Shack in Israel denounced as starvation spreads in Gaza

Activists have pointed out that at least 18 people have died from malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza, calling for a boycott of the chain
Shake Shack's opening in Tel Aviv came on the same day the deaths from malnutrition in Gaza were reported (AFP)

The grand opening of the first Shake Shack fast-food chain in Israel has sparked a backlash, as it comes the same day the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced that 18 people had died from malnutrition in Gaza since the start of the war. 

The fast-food chain opened on 5 March, with queues of people lining up to buy burgers. 

But it has sparked calls for international boycotts, with people noting the irony that the opening comes as several aid organisations raised concerns over the threat of famine in Gaza, as a result of Israel's actions.

Since the start of the war on 7 October, Israel has cut off all fuel, food, electricity, water and aid supplies to Gaza, leaving around 2.2 million people at varying levels of hunger and dehydration. 

According to Haaretz, Shake Shack, which opened on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street, saw groups of people queue to get their orders. 

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Haaretz also reported that since the start of the war, Shake Shack has been keeping “almost completely silent about plans to expand into Israel, with nothing more posted on any of their social media platforms after the original announcement”. 

It added that the opening was kept “deliberately low-key”, and that the company's Israeli leadership refused repeated requests for an interview. 

Calls for boycott

Online, many social media users have denounced the opening. 

“Shake Shack has opened in Israeli territory in a time of genocide. Shut its branches in the Arab world!” one social media user said. 

Others suggested alternatives to the chain. 

“If you're in Kuwait, try the awesome Kuwaiti burger shop 'Fat Cap' and you'll thank me later,” another said. 

Others responded to the announcement by saying they are “never going again”, while another responded sarcastically with “don't forget to try our brand new blood of the innocent shake also our starving children burger is a must have!”

On Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that children in Gaza who have survived Israeli bombing may not now survive famine. 

In a post on X, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for more aid into Gaza and an immediate ceasefire, and shared a video detailing the situation in the Strip. 

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has also raised concerns over the number of people dying from malnutrition in Gaza.

“The famine is deepening and will claim thousands of lives if the aggression is not halted and humanitarian and medical aid is not immediately brought in,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday. 

The ministry accused Israel of "deliberately" starving thousands of people in northern Gaza, and urged the international community and the UN to stop the war and avoid a "health catastrophe".

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