Gaza’s Human Suffering

Gaza's Human Suffering

~ 24 June 2024 ~

For more than nine months, the people of the Gaza Strip have been overwhelmed by a war they did not ask for, incited by a terrorist group that controls the territory, and carried out by a neighbor who despises them. Now, Gazans are starving to death, because the trucks carrying thousands of tons of food, fuel, and medical aid, waiting to enter the enclave, are not permitted to do so.. which only increases the number of atrocities being committed against Palestinians. Gaza’s human suffering is compounded by the fact that the ongoing humanitarian crisis is completely man-made and avoidable, but no one with the power to stop it, will.

In the first month of the war, aid agencies predicted it would take 100 supply trucks every day for six months to meet the deficits the war had created in the enclave. Nine months later, the situation in Gaza is horrific. Against today’s conditions, it will take 600 trucks per day, every day, for a year before the crisis, this war has created, is manageable. The number of aid trucks allowed into Gaza for the whole month of May was less than 400. The longer humanitarian relief is obstructed, the worse the situation in Gaza becomes. Bakeries, water desalination plants, and hospitals all need fuel to operate. Gaza receives less than ten percent of the supply required to operate the lifeline for food, water, and healthcare. Unless more aid is allowed in, many people will die from dehydration, starvation, disease, and injuries.

Displacement

Gaza has a population of 2.3 million people, half of which are children. The Gaza Strip is about the size of the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, but with three times the population. Initially, Israel issued multiple orders to the people in Gaza City to flee south. Within a few weeks, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked Gaza City from the air, and then via an aggressive ground invasion, turned the city into rubble and killed tens of thousands. In violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, the IDF indiscriminately targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals – places where homeless and displaced civilians had sought safe shelter from the war.

In the first six months of the Israel-Hamas war, some 1.3 million people in northern Gaza were forced to flee south into Rafah. However, by April 2024, the IDF began threatening Rafah with an imminent ground invasion and engaged in several airstrikes on the region. The threat of a ground invasion forced a million people to flee Rafah… but to where?

On 6 May, the IDF made good on their threat and launched a ground invasion into the city, and the next day, the Israeli military seized the border crossing and blocked all aid from entering the enclave. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s top court, issued a new order on 24 May to Israel to immediately halt military operations in Rafah. However, despite official demands, Israel continues both the offensive and blockade. At present, nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced from their homes, many multiple times, There is simply no safe place to go in Gaza.

Famine

Reports indicate that some areas are experiencing food insecurity, while other sections of the enclave are already in full-blown famine. Indiscriminate airstrikes on food sources, as well as blockades preventing food aid delivery, are the leading contributors to the famine.

The ICJ ordered Israel to accelerate and allow the immediate, safe, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, and to open all crossing points in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2720 (2023), adopted last December. The resolution establishes the post of a UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator who will facilitate coordination, verify, and monitor aid deliveries to Gaza.

Additionally, UN Security Council Resolution 2712 (2023) calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in the war, and for corridors to allow aid to be delivered. The resolution implores that humanitarian agencies have full, safe, prompt, and unhindered access to reach all civilians in need across Gaza. Neither of these resolutions is being upheld.

Throughout the strip, food is either not available or is too expensive to buy. There is panic and the few food sources left have been robbed by people as they try to feed their families. Some 85 percent of children go a whole day or more without eating. An overwhelming 95 percent of pregnant women face severe food insecurity. Miscarriages have become common as a result of women being malnourished. Most babies are born underweight and mothers struggle to produce breastmilk to feed them. With no ability to stave off famine, widespread starvation is certain.

Healthcare

Palestinians face an unprecedented health emergency. The destruction of infrastructure and transportation has complicated healthcare delivery. The ongoing lack of clean water and sanitation has also triggered a very high rate of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, hepatitis A, and cholera. One in 3 children under the age of 2 suffer from acute malnutrition.

Hospitals are struggling. Fuel is critical to power hospital generators. The dire conditions mean medical staff cannot carry out the surgery needed to save a limb or a life. People are dying, not because their injuries are so extreme, but because treatment and medicines are not available. In all of Gaza, only a third of hospitals remain even partially functional.

Dr. Samer Attar of Northwestern Medicine, a volunteer in Gaza for six months, said: “In many cases, all you can do is hold their hand, be with them, and support those left behind. That’s medicine in Gaza.”

Without a ceasefire, peace on the ground, and resources, the people in Gaza will continue to suffer. This war needs to end.

With gratitude… Lara

Photo credit: Fars Photo of Casualties in Gaza Strip during 2023 War 05 by Saleh Najm and Anas Sharif. Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Authors Note: I am sensitive to reposting photos of death and dying. These are people… humans… someone’s family. I appeal to people’s empathy and post photos of war and hope that they will understand, know, and feel the image – that there is no way to escape death in buildings that are decimated. However, after nine months of war and conversations about war… I have not witnessed the empathy. This child died through no fault of his or her own. There are more than 38,000 casualties in the Israel-Hamas war taking place in Gaza – some 70 percent of those killed are women and children.

#thinkingoutloud #larakajs #Gaza #Israel #famine #humanitarianaid #ceasefirenow #GazaPeace

2 comments

  1. I’ve been in #Gaza since November, along with colleague Chad Thornson. More than 38,000 deaths and at least 70 percent t are women and children. It is horrific and even that does not conjure enough. It needs to end now. There are enough mandates and mechanisms to force Israel to stop the #genocide of the #Palestinian people.

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