Intense bombardment and fighting have uprooted over 1.8 million people – around 80 per cent of the total population of the Strip. Around one million people are being pushed to relocate into the south, where living conditions were already overcrowded and desperate even prior to the current conflict.
As the truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza extends into a seventh day, here are five things to know about the current situation in southern Gaza, where teams from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are working.
1. People are living without the essentials
Our teams are reporting seeing people queueing for food and water and cooking gas, while the needs remain uncovered for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Despite the entry of several trucks of aid into Gaza, the needs remain hugely unmet. This includes mattresses, warm clothes for winter, blankets and other items.
With the Gaza Strip being disconnected from electrical power by the Israeli forces and fuel reserves depleted, all essential services such as health, water and sanitation, and communication, were forced to shut down one by one. The complete siege imposed by the Israeli government has deprived the entirety of Gaza’s people of essential supplies such as food, water, shelter, and medical care.
2. The few medical facilities that are functioning are overwhelmed
In southern Gaza, only eight out of eleven health facilities are currently functioning (UN OCHA, 26 November). They are currently receiving far more people than they normally do, knowing there is a huge lack of material, resources, water and power. The lack of space is also a problem, because like the north, hospitals in the south have become a refuge for thousands of displaced people.
“The entire health system here in Gaza just does not have the capacity to cope with the current situation,” says Marie-Aure Perreaut, MSF emergency coordinator in Gaza. “Hospitals are completely overwhelmed with the influx of wounded they've been receiving for the past few weeks.”
In Martyrs clinic in Khan Younis, where our teams are working, the number of consultations per day has increased from roughly 250 to roughly 1,000 consultations.
Other hospitals that our teams visited are running out of beds, and patients are lying in the hallways waiting to receive treatment.