Two Months of Hostilities in Gaza: Unprecedented and Horrific Levels of Human Suffering
Today marks two months since the attack on Israel in which Hamas killed 1,200 and took more than 200 people hostage- many of whom are still held against their will. The subsequent military operation and now humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed all of Gaza is worsening by the minute. More than 15,000 civilians in Gaza are reported to have been killed and more than 2.3 million people are struggling to survive under two months of total siege and constant bombardment. After a brief pause in fighting, the onslaught has resumed at an even greater intensity. The UN reports that at least 1,207 Palestinians, 70% of whom are women and children, have been killed in the five days since hostilities resumed after a temporary truce. Supplies of food, water, fuel, and other basic necessities are depleted and most essential services have completely collapsed. A staggering 85% of the population of Gaza have fled their homes after intensive bombardment of northern Gaza, and with southern Gaza now under expanding military operations and constant airstrikes.
Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps, says:
“For two months we have watched with increasing horror as the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza has spiraled far beyond our worst fears. With northern Gaza separated and largely destroyed and southern Gaza now under intensifying military operations and constant airstrikes, there is no safe place in Gaza left to go.It is abundantly clear that not enough is being done to protect civilians, who are killed daily by the hundreds, cannot find safe refuge anywhere, and are struggling to survive in unlivable and inhumane conditions. A Mercy Corps team member shared this week, “the ceasefire served as a passage from one hell to another, without any visible resolution.”
“Our colleagues tell us that each day revolves around lining up in queues for 15 or 20 hours to get only a little bit of food, clean water, cooking gas or fuel. Each night brings with it the terror that they and their families may not live to see the morning, and each morning brings with it more news of loved ones lost.
“The renewed offensive is now spreading south, with Khan Younis as the new epicenter of the military operation. Previously a place where some minimal aid could be distributed to 600,000 people sheltering there, humanitarian access to Khan Younis has ground to a halt.
“Most of the 1.9 million displaced people in Gaza are now relocated or fleeing to Rafah in the increasingly overcrowded southern Gaza strip, where illness and disease are quickly spreading. One team member there shared, “I saw people in the street barefoot. How can a person endure the upcoming cold in this situation?” Another said, 'we all suffer from flu symptoms, worsened by the onset of winter. We fled before winter, so we didn't bring winter clothes or blankets. Heating methods have become a luxury, impossible to obtain in the absence of electricity or fuel.'”
“Only a sustained ceasefire and an end to the siege coupled with the massive scale-up of humanitarian assistance can stop thousands more from dying in front of our eyes. Enough is enough. This must stop now.”
Pictured below: Destruction in Gaza City’s Al-Remal neighborhood. Photo credits: ©Eyad Baba for Mercy Corps