As food, humanitarian and water supplies continue to be cut off
SAM warns of unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza Strip
  • 08/11/2023
    SAM |

    Geneva - Sam Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that the Israeli occupation authorities are carrying out a policy of genocide against the population of Gaza by imposing a blockade and starving civilians, with the aim of completely destroying the population without distinction between young and old, child and woman. This has led to catastrophic living conditions in the region, as part of their ongoing war for the fifth consecutive week, to subjugate civilians and exert pressure on them.

    The organization stated in a statement issued today, Wednesday, that in conjunction with the 33rd day of the war on Gaza, Israel's policy of starvation towards the region has taken extremely dangerous dimensions. This includes cutting off all food supplies and bombing and destroying bakeries, factories, food stores, as well as water stations and reservoirs.

    "SAM" has observed that Israel has deliberately focused its attacks on targeting power generators and solar power units in the past 48 hours. These facilities are relied upon by commercial establishments, restaurants, and civilian institutions to maintain the minimum level of functionality.

    Israeli aircraft also destroyed the agricultural area in eastern Gaza, flour warehouses, fishermen's boats, as well as supply centers for humanitarian organizations, particularly the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which is the largest source of humanitarian aid in the region.

    The organization also noted that, according to estimates from the World Food Programme, the current stocks of essential food items will be sufficient for a maximum of four days before they are completely depleted. Meanwhile, trade has come to a complete standstill due to widespread destruction, lack of security, and fuel shortages.

    Despite the overwhelming amount of aid waiting at the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side to enter the Gaza Strip, only about 2% of the aid and food supplies have been allowed by Israel to enter the Gaza Strip. Israel has been disregarding calls from international organizations to allow the entry of food, water, fuel, and other essential necessities without restrictions.

    The Gaza Strip is surrounded by eight crossings, six of which connect the Strip to the territories occupied in 1948 and are controlled by Israeli authorities. Four of these crossings are completely closed, while two crossings, Beit Hanoun and Kerem Shalom, are intermittently open. Egypt, along with other parties, controls two other crossings, namely Rafah and Salah al-Din Gate. The four open crossings, even if not permanently, serve as the only gateways for the movement of goods and people between the Gaza Strip and the outside world. Two of them, Beit Hanoun and Rafah, are primarily designated for the movement of individuals, while the other two, Kerem Shalom and Salah al-Din Gate, are designated for commercial activities.

    Since the beginning of the war on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Minister of Defense has made the decision to close all commercial and individual crossings. The Egyptian-controlled Rafah and Salah al-Din Gate crossings have also been targeted and bombed multiple times. Recently, partial repairs have been carried out to ensure the passage of humanitarian aid trucks, which are at risk of damage due to the prolonged waiting period and the cutting off of main roads within the Gaza Strip. These factors hinder the delivery of aid to the population.

    "SAM" highlighted that the aforementioned factors have contributed to an increase in the prevalence of malnutrition among children in the Gaza Strip. Prior to the war, the rate of child malnutrition was around 70%, with children suffering from anemia, weakened immune systems, and a high risk of contracting serious diseases. According to estimates from the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, this percentage has risen to approximately 92%.

    While 52,540 newborns in Gaza are facing the risk of death, hunger, dehydration, and infectious diseases due to power outages in incubators and the lack of necessary medical supplies and specialized food, women in Gaza disproportionately bear the consequences of Israel's war. There are approximately 55,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with an expected 5,500 births this month.

    The continuous bombardment of hospitals and their surroundings, particularly on the night of last Sunday, November, has resulted in the disruption or non-functioning of damaged healthcare facilities. Additionally, the significant increase in displacement, coupled with the collapse of food, water, and electricity supplies, has greatly heightened the risk facing mothers and newborn infants.

    The organization emphasized that as the availability of food and water worsens, families are struggling to feed and care for their loved ones, which increases the risks of malnutrition, illness, and death. The organization has been in contact with several families and individuals in the past few hours who have shared their struggles in obtaining basic necessities for survival, such as water and food.

    "Ibrahim Shehadeh," a resident of Gaza, who lives with his family, said, "I have a family of 4 people and a number of my relatives came to my house after they lost their homes, providing water for me and my children has become a daily nightmare as I cannot get enough water, so I give my children my share of water due to its absence."

    Youssef Abdel-Maati, in his testimony to "SAM," said, "I am the eldest among my siblings, and it is my responsibility throughout the day to provide the minimum amount of water for my father, mother, and siblings. There is no electricity to operate the water stations, and thousands of people have been waiting in front of public water stations from morning till evening to get a quantity of water that is not sufficient for their entire families. We are starting to feel that we will die of thirst."

    Mahmoud Deeb, in his testimony, said, "We are suffering from a shortage of essential goods. There is a lack of electricity, water, and sufficient food. At the beginning of each day, we feel that we are facing a challenge to survive. I don't know how we will continue in this way. I have visited every grocery store or shop to obtain basic goods, but most of the time I return empty-handed to my family due to the depletion of supplies and the restriction on their entry."

    Estimates from the Ministry of Health and Supply in Gaza indicate that currently, there is only less than three liters of clean water available per person, compared to a minimum necessary amount of 15 liters per day for individuals in the most acute humanitarian emergencies. The stock of bottled water has been depleted, and the cost of bottled water has already risen to a level that is beyond the reach of an average family in Gaza. Prices have increased up to five times in some areas due to the severe shortage.

    The Palestinian Water Authority has stated that water production in Gaza currently stands at only 5% of its total natural production, and it is expected to further decrease unless water and sanitation facilities are provided with electricity or fuel to resume their operations.

    Hundreds of thousands of residents in Gaza City and northern Gaza are facing a severe water shortage, raising concerns of drought and waterborne diseases due to the consumption of water from unsafe sources. Most water facilities in these areas have ceased operations, and the population is relying on a minimum number of private wells and purification stations while consuming unsafe water from agricultural wells.

    On another note, the organization highlighted that obtaining bread in the Gaza Strip has become a vital challenge. The only functioning flour mill in Gaza is still unable to grind wheat due to a lack of electricity and fuel. Furthermore, since October 7th, 11 bakeries have been bombed and destroyed. The remaining bakeries that are still operational face significant challenges due to shortages of essential supplies such as flour and fuel.

    It is mentioned here that the limited food supplies entering from Egypt are primarily distributed to displaced individuals and host families in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Only flour is provided to bakeries. However, any access to food items is prohibited in Gaza City and the northern areas.

    The organization emphasizes that what enters the Gaza Strip is a limited quantity of food aid, as no commercial food imports have been delivered. This leaves the approximately 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza in desperate need of food, as they continue to face the collective punishment approach imposed upon them.

    While the distribution of food aid to displaced individuals in northern Gaza has come to a near-complete halt in the past few days, following intensified ground operations by the Israeli army, there is a looming threat of widespread famine, particularly affecting children.

    "SAM" affirms that international humanitarian law strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Considering Israel as the occupying power in Gaza, it is obligated under international humanitarian law to provide for the needs of the population in Gaza and ensure their protection.

    The organization renews its call to the international community to urgently and effectively act to impose a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and prevent further deterioration of the situation that affects the lives of civilians. This includes facilitating fair and unconditional access of essential humanitarian supplies to the entire Gaza Strip and providing necessary provisions of food, water, medical supplies, and fuel to meet the needs of the population.

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