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Gaza: “The population is still in shock”

Emergency
Palestine

Gaza has been seriously impacted by the 11-day bombing last May during the conflict with Israel. Amal, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) staff in Gaza, shares her hopes and experiences for the humanitarian challenges to come.

Archive photo – HI staff provide mobility aids and rehabilitation sessions to an injured man in Gaza in 2018

Archive photo – HI staff provide mobility aids and rehabilitation sessions to an injured man in Gaza in 2018 | © Hardy Skills / HI

256 people in Gaza - and 13 people in Israel - were killed throughout the 11-days of bombing. Almost 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza were injured. In the West Bank and Gaza, an estimated 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.[1]

How is the situation today?

“Life seems to have resumed its course: stores have reopened; people are returning to work. On the day that the ceasefire was announced, a lot of people went to the beach in Gaza to celebrate the end of the violence. It was a very impressive sight. Once the ceasefire was declared, I found myself crying and crying, and I couldn’t stop. That was the first time I had cried about the war, and actually as I am writing this, I want to cry again. In the following days, we were able to go out and see what had happened. We saw all of the destruction and the losses and started to check on people. It brought us back to the reality of the situation and the incredible horror that we will have to live through in the coming period. It may take years just to rebuild what has been destroyed and make up for what have lost, knowing that the loss of lives cannot be compensated.

Humanity & Inclusion (HI)'s teams have resumed work and activated the emergency response to help people. It has taken a lot of energy and enormous efforts because our mental and physical state is not well. Knowing that many people in our community are struggling and in need of support gave us the courage to collect ourselves and return to our duties providing support to the most vulnerable people. 

Some people stayed under rubble for days after the end of the war. The idea of this was unbearable as we walked through these areas on our way to work and saw the rescuing teams making all efforts to bring them back to life.

In what state of mind are people today, almost a month after the end of the bombing?

Many people are still scarred. In the days following the announcement of the ceasefire, people were both psychologically and physically exhausted. It was 11 days of uninterrupted bombing; there was no break. More than 100,000 people had to flee, sometimes several times before finding a safe place. Just going out to buy food could put your life in danger. There is still a lot of anxiety among the population: how long will the peace last? What will become of us? Children are still the most affected, with insomnia and nightmares.

This week, raids hit Gaza again, breaking the ceasefire. I was afraid that the war could restart in the morning. When I received the security communication that the office was open as there were no complication, I was relieved. I cannot beare t live through that experience again.

What is the humanitarian situation like today, after the crisis?

The material damage is impressive. The bombing produced 40 impact craters on the roads. Nearly 500 buildings were damaged or destroyed. There were also over 1,000 impact craters in fields or vacant lots.[2] We still experience power outages, and the sewage system is damaged, which has a serious impact on access to clean water. Humanitarian needs are diverse. Among others, there is a great need for reconstruction, especially for housing.

Many areas are contaminated by explosive remnants because a percentage of bombs did not explode on impact and continue to pose a threat to people. Remnants of exploded bombs can also be dangerous hidden beneath the rubble. For this reason, it is important to conduct awareness campaigns among the population to inform them of these dangers.

Due to the current blockade, Gaza lacks everything, including medical goods and equipment. There are still nearly 9,000 people displaced and sheltered mainly in schools. They need everything: even food and fuel. Many businesses had to stop because goods are not able to enter Gaza, and many merchants are struggling to pay extra for the goods stored in ports. All of these additional financial obligations add to the burden of the poverty-stricken population.

What has HI already done?

We have assisted in evacuating people with disabilities during the escalation, and we conducted risk education sessions soon after. We have been distributing vouchers for food assistance to 300 families and medical first aid kits to 500 families.”


[1]Local Ministry of Health, USAID and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

[2]https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNOSAT_Gaza_Strip_A3_Portrait_Light_20210528.pdf

Date published: 21/06/21

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