After Truce Collapse, Resumed Bombardment in Gaza Puts Civilians Back in the Crossfire
Despite proposed “safe zones,” densely crowded southern Gaza foreshadows high civilian casualties should resumed conflict concentrate there
After the collapse of a week-long truce, bombing and terror has swiftly returned to Gaza. Hours after airstrikes resumed, dozens of civilians were reportedly killed. Already more than over 15,000 civilians – the majority of whom are women and children – have died in the last eight weeks of hostilities, with catastrophic damage to civilian infrastructure and the uprooting of 1.8 million people.
Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps, says:
“Reports of leaflets dropped in Khan Younis urging people to move further south to Rafah are deeply concerning. We are already seeing the consequences of severe overcrowding in the south – where 80% of the population has evacuated. Many of our own team members are reporting that they and their families are suffering from gastrointestinal and skin ailments, with children most affected, due to the lack of clean water. They are rationing salty water for laundry and bathing.
“One team member who journeyed south shared, “I saw death as I walked through this "safe" corridor more than ever before. I wished I could die at that moment and not smell the scent of blood, not see the dead body parts, not see death everywhere in my homeland. I wish I had never left my home, instead of living in this false safety they sent us to.”
“Further reports of maps published to advise Palestinians of so-called “safe areas” for evacuation in Gaza are equally troubling. No place in Gaza is safe, and any attempts to signal safe zones to civilians does not absolve parties to the conflict from adhering to International Humanitarian Law and protecting civilians anywhere they are. Unilateral creation of safe zones would risk harm and large-scale loss of life as concentrating civilians in zones during active hostilities can lead to further danger.
“Civilians should be safe wherever they are and aid organizations should be able to reach them wherever they are. Even during the truce, not nearly enough aid and fuel got into Gaza to meet the huge level of need – now aid trucks getting in have dwindled significantly, with limited supplies and no fuel crossing from Egypt into Gaza since the breakdown of the truce. Aid into Gaza must be not only maintained at the levels seen during the truce, but significantly increased to meet what will continue to be exponentially growing humanitarian needs as conflict continues. Aid and aid access must not be used as a bargaining chip for any ongoing negotiations.”