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  • ACRI

The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

The Gaza Strip is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as a result of the war, the massive evacuation of residents, the extensive destruction of civilian structures, health facilities, roads and electricity and water infrastructure, disruptions in the provision of humanitarian aid, and the impact of winter weather conditions. According to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, since the outbreak of war until the end of January 2024, over 27,000 Palestinians have been killed, 70% of which are women and children, and over 65,300 individuals have been wounded. According to UNICEF, Some 17,000 children in Gaza remain unaccompanied by adults. According to the United Nations, some 1.7 million people, or about 80% of the population, have been displaced. They are terribly overcrowded in humanitarian shelters or on the streets, and many will have nowhere to return to after the fighting ends. In addition to the extensive destruction of buildings, there has also been extensive destruction of cultivated farmland, and much of Gaza has become uninhabitable.

 

There is insufficient electricity in the Gaza Strip, no access to clean water and no access to food. According to UNICEF, a child in Gaza has access to only about 2.5 liters of water per day, while the minimum amount required in an emergency under emergency humanitarian standards is 15 liters. According to reports by the World Food Organization and the ICP Food Security Index, since December 2023 the entire population in the Gaza Strip is classified as stage 3 and above, which is defined as a crisis or worse, and requires immediate intervention. About 50 percent of the population (1.17 million people) are in a state of emergency (Phase 4), and more than a quarter of households (more than half a million people) face catastrophic conditions (Phase 5). This is one of the largest proportions of severely food-insecure households ever recorded worldwide. Gaza is heavily polluted and dangerous, with a high risk of epidemics. As of January 24, only 14 of Gaza's 36 hospitals are functioning, only partially, at high capacity and with critical shortages of basic supplies and fuel, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Even before the war, the Gaza Strip was in a deep humanitarian crisis and depended on the entry of aid and goods. Now, when the entire civilian population suffers from starvation, disease, lack of shelter, danger of injury and death, in need of extensive and permanent humanitarian assistance; however, Israel is creating difficulties and even preventing the entry of the necessary aid.

 

On February 11, 2024, we sent legal correspondence to the War Cabinet, demanding that Israel fulfill its obligations under international law and ensure the safety and needs of the protected residents of Gaza. In her address, Attorney. Roni Pelli reviewed international law and High Court rulings regarding Israel's obligations towards the residents, who are defined by international law as "protected." We emphasized that even if there was disagreement about the extent of Israel's responsibility for the residents of Gaza since the disengagement (in 2006), in the new situation the dispute is no longer relevant: at this time, the army is physically present on the ground and controls large areas of the Gaza Strip, and the Hamas regime can no longer exercise its civilian powers. Therefore, Israel bears a broader responsibility than it has demonstrated so far: Its duty is not only to allow the passage of aid but to provide the necessary assistance.

 

Israel must allow the safe return of residents to their homes in areas where there is no longer intense fighting, and provide appropriate housing solutions for those whose homes were damaged and those who are still unable to return to their homes due to the fighting. Israel must also provide clean drinking water, sufficient food, electricity, medicines, warm clothing, and everything necessary for the survival of the population. It must increase the entry of humanitarian aid and ensure that it reaches all civilians, as well as ensure that every protected person has access to medical care.

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