Six Months of Violence and Siege for 2.3 Million Palestinians in Gaza

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Published: 19th April 2024

After the atrocities committed on October 7, 2023, Israel’s escalation in Gaza is the most brutal onslaught of violence carried out against Palestinians during the 57-year-long Israeli occupation. Before the latest escalation of violence, over 80% of the population in Gaza relied on some form of humanitarian aid for survival, and life in the Gaza Strip was characterised by the almost total restriction on travel and trade, and the absence of social safety nets and livelihood opportunities. However, life for the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped inside Gaza has turned into an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. 

The Israeli military onslaught, which has included dropping at least 45,000 bombs within the first three months of the war, has killed at least 33,000 people, about 180 a day. However, the actual figure is estimated to be much higher, as many remain trapped under rubble. This death toll also does not include those who have died due to lack of medicines, such as cancer or dialysis patients who have not been able to access their life-saving treatments. 

Destruction in Gaza

Destruction in Gaza

Oxfam’s team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has mounted a humanitarian response despite enormous challenges. Along with partner organisations in Gaza, Oxfam has responded to the crisis by delivering cash, food, and essential basic items and restoring water and sanitation services where possible. Oxfam staff and partners are working under extremely challenging circumstances as no place is safe in Gaza. At the same time, supply lines from Egypt and Jordan have been needlessly restricted by Israel, who has installed an opaque and excessively bureaucratic process for importing essential life-saving aid that causes delays, and sometimes items to be rejected while waiting at the Rafah border for weeks if not or months 

People in northern Gaza forced to survive on 245 calories a day, less than a can of beans 

Oxfam’s analysis of the recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report for the Gaza Strip shows that people in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day - less than a can of fava beans. The miniscule amount of food represents less than 12 per cent of the recommended daily 2,100 calorie intake needed per person, calculated using demographic data considering variations by age and gender. Oxfam also found that the total food deliveries allowed into Gaza for the 2.2 million population since last October amounted to an average of just 41 per cent of the daily calories needed per person. 

As a result of the siege imposed by Israel, Gaza is suffering from a severe food shortage. The hostilities have caused severe damage to Gaza’s agriculture and food production sectors, limiting local production at scale. Gaza's entire population is currently classified as facing either crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity. Famine-like conditions in Gaza are caused by Israel’s failure to ensure complete and unfettered access to humanitarian goods throughout Gaza. Oxfam and other actors have repeatedly warned against Israel’s use of starvation as a weapon of war, a strict prohibition under international humanitarian law and other binding instruments such as UN Security Council Resolution 2417. Despite severe challenges to aid delivery, Oxfam, with its partners, reached 262,424 people in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, delivered emergency cash, and was able to expand food security interventions through a network of local entities.  

Over 95% of Gaza’s population doesn’t have access to clean water 

The 17-year air, land and sea blockade of Gaza and minimal existing water resources had severely impacted the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector long before October 2023. Years of restricted access to fuel and materials have hampered the ability of WASH providers, including Oxfam, to provide adequate water and sanitation services to Gaza’s population. Oxfam, its partners, and other service providers facilitated the operation of hundreds of water and sanitation facilities, including water and sewer networks, pumping stations, and desalination and wastewater treatment plants. Additionally, Gaza’s sole source of natural water, the coastal aquifer, suffers from over-extraction, saltwater intrusion, and sewage infiltration, rendering it largely unfit for human consumption. Therefore, even before the recent escalation of violence, more than 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza were not receiving adequate water and sanitation services. 

Displaced people in Rafah in South Gaza to use the newly installed desalination units Oxfam and local partners provided. These units provide clean drinking water for free with no risk of contamination.

Displaced people in Rafah in South Gaza to use the newly installed desalination units Oxfam and local partners provided. These units provide clean drinking water for free with no risk of contamination.

Lasting Political Solution: Permanent Ceasefire  

Oxfam calls for a permanent ceasefire, the return of all hostages and the release of unlawfully detained Palestinian prisoners, for countries to immediately stop supplying arms to Israel and for full humanitarian aid access. The global response for Gaza must include both adequate and nutritious food for everyone, the full restoration of hospitals and health services, water, and sanitation infrastructure and for all reconstruction materials to be allowed across the border.  

Support Oxfam's emergency response and aid civilians and local partners through the Gaza Appeal. 

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