A Voice from Gaza: “We Now Eat Only Once a Day and Say It's Enough”

January 30, 2024

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Northern Gaza Strip continue to be almost entirely cut off from aid, trapped between death from bombardment and death from a combination of starvation, exposure, malnutrition, and disease. Now unmanaged waste is intensifying health risks as more than 50,000 tons of household and medical waste has overflowed into the streets and beaches of Gaza City. Between 1 to 25 January, 84 percent of the planned missions to deliver humanitarian aid to the areas north of Wadi Gaza were denied access or could not reach their destinations. After nearly four months under siege and bombardment, people in the North report almost completely running out of food and resorting to eating livestock feed and plant leaves to survive. Meanwhile, what was once the only viable entry point for aid in southern Gaza is now the epicenter of the violence. 

The ability of humanitarian agencies to operate safely and effectively continues to be heavily compromised by ongoing shelling, restrictions on the import of essential supplies into Gaza, and threats to the safety of aid workers and aid distribution sites. As nine out of ten Gazans face the real prospect of starvation, Gaza’s full population of 2.3 million people now depend on the scaling up of the humanitarian response. Mercy Corps continues to urge for a full, sustained ceasefire and end to the siege to stop the devastating loss of life and enable the international aid community to provide desperately needed assistance.

Waleed, a Mercy Corps team member in Gaza, said:

“The situation in the North is very difficult and food is extremely scarce. I know people who haven't had a piece of bread for over a month. Many are limited to just one meal a day, typically consisting of rice. There are no vegetables available; I haven't seen tomatoes, cucumbers, or potatoes for about 90 days. If something is available, you cannot afford to buy it. A bag of flour, previously priced at 35 shekels is now 600 shekels. The cost of rice, once 6 shekels per kilo, is now 17 shekels. This is the same for all items.

“Instead, you must wait for aid trucks in a place near the tanks to find something to eat. Every day people go hoping to get some assistance and tanks shoot at them, resulting in casualties. Personally, from the beginning of the war until today, my family hasn’t received any kind of assistance. We now eat only once a day and say it's enough. 

“The aid trucks reaching the North are very few, and because there is no one responsible for the distribution process, it’s extremely chaotic. People often intercept these trucks and directly take items from them because they know they won't get anything otherwise. Recently, I went to observe the aid distribution, and it was very distressing. Thousands of people were waiting by the seaside in the hope that aid trucks would enter, and after waiting for hours, only two trucks entered—for thousands of hungry people. People crowded around them so intensely that I witnessed two people suffocating to death from the overcrowding.

“Most people are not getting any assistance either because they are not willing to risk going to places where there's a high chance of being targeted or because they cannot compete with so many people trying to get aid.

“In the early days of the war, I wrote diaries to document every moment and not forget the small details. But after a few weeks, I burned the notebook so that I could forget. I wanted to avoid revisiting the pages and reliving the heartbreak associated with the events documented on them. Now every day is a whole book with more horrible experiences.”


Notes to the Editor:

  • Waleed is located in Gaza City. 
  • Waleed is a pseudonym being used to protect the safety of the individual and his family.


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