Gaza’s Civilian Population Grappling with Hunger and Food Shortages
The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is currently facing a tremendous food shortage and widespread hunger. As the winter season rapidly approaches, concerns are mounting over the lack of resources necessary to sustain life in the beleaguered territory.
Critical Food and Water Supply at Stake
According to a warning issued by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the food and water supply in Gaza is almost non-existent, and only a fraction of what is needed is being delivered across the borders. Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the agency, observed the immediate threat of starvation faced by civilians living in overcrowded and insecure shelters, compounded by the shortage of drinking water.
Blockade Severely Impacting Humanitarian Efforts
The lack of fuel, exacerbated by an Israeli blockade initiated on October 9th, has severely hampered the distribution and humanitarian operations in Gaza. Out of 1,129 trucks that have entered the Strip since the Rafah border crossing with Egypt opened on October 21st, only 447 trucks were carrying food supplies. The WFP stressed that this accounts for a mere 7% of the daily minimum caloric needs of the population.
Food Infrastructure Collapsed
The food infrastructure in Gaza has ground to a halt, leaving only 25% of the stores collaborating with WFP open, with many others completely out of basic food items. Local markets have closed down entirely, and the limited amounts of food available are being sold at exorbitant prices. Without the means to cook, these food items offer little relief, forcing many residents to survive on one meal a day or resort to eating raw onions and eggplants.
Bakeries and Humanitarian Aid Compromised
WFP reported the closure of the last working bakery they partnered with due to fuel shortages. With a total of 130 bakeries shut down, the availability of bread—considered an essential food staple for Gaza’s residents—is facing a grim reality. This situation is worsened by the suspension of humanitarian aid operations by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) caused by the fuel crisis. The shortage led UNRWA to cease its relief efforts in Gaza two days after its announcement on November 13th. According to the agency, the scant amount of fuel entering Gaza amounts to only 9% of what is needed to maintain life-saving activities.
Violence Exacerbates the Crisis
The current humanitarian crisis follows an unprecedented attack on Israel by the Palestinian movement Hamas on October 7th, launching thousands of rockets from Gaza and carrying out an armed incursion into southern border areas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that Israel is “at war” was followed by the cessation of basic provisions to the enclave, displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, who are now heavily reliant on the trickle of international humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing.
Devastating Human Toll
Official data reveal that Tel Aviv’s military siege on Gaza has resulted in the deaths of 11,200 people, including more than 4,600 children, and over 28,000 injuries within the Palestinian enclave. At the same time, Israeli military operations have claimed the lives of over 100 United Nations officials in Gaza. Meanwhile, surprise attacks by Hamas on October 7th left more than 1,200 dead in Israel and hundreds of hostages still unaccounted for.
Mass Displacement in Gaza
The UNRWA has reported that nearly 1.6 million Gazans have been displaced, with over 813,000 currently seeking refuge in 154 facilities under the agency’s care, enduring cramped conditions.
The ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Gaza continue to take a substantial toll on the civilian population, with international efforts to provide relief facing significant obstacles and the specter of starvation looms large over the territory.
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