The Israel-Hamas war has led to scarce access to food, fuel, water, medical supplies, and sanitation for residents of Gaza. These issues could cause more loss of life through starvation and disease than even the fighting itself.
“We are extremely concerned about the spread of disease when the winter season arrives,” said Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Peeperkorn also said that more than 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and more than 44,000 cases of diarrhea had already been recorded, a number far higher than expected.
The World Health Organization says very worried about spread of disease in Gaza, noting that more than 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and over 44,000 cases of diarrhea had been recorded, significantly higher than expected. https://t.co/0UOGumqiQa via @ABCaustralia
— Shibley Telhami (@ShibleyTelhami) November 17, 2023
In 2021 and 2022, according to ABC News, the area saw approximately 2,000 cases of diarrhea per month. Over half of the cases occur in children under the age of five.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 1.5 million people in Gaza are internally displaced. Out of those 1.5 million, about 813,000 are staying in 154 shelters provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
With that many people staying in that few number of shelters, disease spreading due to overcrowding and lack of resources is a foregone conclusion. It is in that environment that these increased cases of disease continue to spread.
On top of the overcrowding in shelters and the rise of disease, there have been fewer and fewer supplies delivered to Gaza. Since the war began, border crossings into Gaza have been severely limited leading to fewer and fewer supplies like clean water, fuel and medical supplies.
“Before the 7th of October, an average of 500 trucks a day were crossing into Gaza with essential supplies. Since the 7th of October, only 217 trucks have entered in total. To sustain the humanitarian response on the scale needed, we need hundreds of trucks to enter Gaza every day,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, at a recent press conference.
On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel leading to the deaths of around 1,400 Israelis and leaving 6,900 injured. Since that time, Israel has sought to protect itself and its people and mounted a retaliatory campaign to root out and destroy the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.
The scarcity of supplies and increase in disease all began with a surprise attack on Israel by a terrorist group that has been harbored in Gaza. Israel now is fighting to protect itself from a real and growing threat while also being sympathetic to the humanitarian crisis facing millions of Palestinians living in Gaza.