The situation in Gaza

Destruction in Gaza

A Palestinian ambulance was completely destroyed by the Israeli airstrikes in Al Remal neighbourhood in Gaza City along with all the buildings and streets in the same area.

Blog by Oxfam NOVIB
Publié: 16th octobre 2023
Posté sur: Conflicts & disasters

Due to the occupation and illegal blockade by the Israeli government, Palestinians have been living under insecurity and oppression for years. In recent days, violence has increased, resulting in many Palestinian as well as Israeli civilian casualties. The situation is unfortunately nothing new, we briefly explain.

56 years of occupation

To fully understand the current situation, you can look very far into history, for example at the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 or even earlier. But in order not to make it an overly long piece, we now look at events from the occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967. In fact, the occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the Israeli government has been going on for 56 years.

Gaza crisis

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Oct. 9, 2023.

Blockade of Gaza

After the conquest of occupied Palestinian territory, millions of Palestinians were displaced and driven to Gaza. Therefore, it is sometimes wrongly thought that Gaza is primarily a refugee camp; this is false. It is a very densely populated area of 45 square kilometers.

In fact, about 2.2 million people currently live there and the deployment of explosive weapons in densely populated areas cause many civilian casualties and damage to public space and infrastructure.

On top of the occupation, the Israeli government has maintained an illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip for 16 years. This means that the Gaza Strip's sea area, airspace and land borders are closed off. This is why it has been called the "largest open-air prison," by the United Nations and others. The Israeli government not only determines which people or goods are allowed to cross the border, but also controls the supply of basic necessities such as water, electricity, medicine and gas. Since the escalation, the Israeli government has expressed its intention to switch to a full blockade, thereby stopping the supply completely. The residents of Gaza are being deprived of their basic needs and collectively punished. Collective punishment like this is also not allowed under international humanitarian law. 

Schools as shelters

An UNRWA school transferred into a shelter in Al Nasser Street in Gaza City due to the recent escalation as Gazans were forced to leave their houses as their houses were bombed or they were at risk.

Causes, escalation and solution

This context is important to keep in mind in order to understand the situation in its completeness. The occupation of Palestinian territory and the illegal blockade of Gaza are also dehumanizing for Palestinian citizens. For example, more than 60% of the population depends on humanitarian aid to survive and 50% of young people are unemployed - the highest rate in the world. They have faced years of oppression, while every human being has the right to a secure and free existence.

Oxfam calls on the warring parties to stop violence against civilians and demands a peaceful solution for Palestinians and Israelis based on international law. Peace that does justice to the citizens of both parties is the only solution.