with him Ceasefire Relief came. The shelling had stopped. Salwa Tibi, a representative of Care International’s Gaza program, said people were going to meet each other, feeling happy.
Earlier this week, Tibi was not sure what she would see the next morning or the next morning, so heavily bombed by Israeli airstrikes. This week, as Tibi’s daughter, who became pregnant for the first time, gave birth in the hospital, Tibi’s granddaughter, Naya, entered the world to the sound of gunfire for hours and hours.
Egypt mediates ceasefire between Israel and Hamasi, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, immediately ended the violence most needed in an area that had been besieged by Israeli airstrikes for 11 days.
Humanitarian aid groups in Gaza were struggling to respond to a ballooning emergency. Fuel, food, water and medicine are all scarce in Gaza. Israeli air strikes have blown up roads and other critical infrastructure. And violence prevented humanitarian groups and activists from reaching those in most need.
Gaza is no longer an active war zone, but the emergency has not ended completely. Israeli airstrikes have demolished high-rise buildings and converted houses and apartments into rubble. Israel said it was targeting Hamas and its network, including rocket launchers and tunnels, but those targets are often associated with schools, clinics and residential buildings.
According to Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing, before the ceasefire, about 230 buildings containing more than 991 housing and commercial units were destroyed, with hundreds more seriously damaged. More than 72,000 people have been displaced in the past week, and nearly 56,000 – about half of whom were children – sought shelter in schools run by the United Nations Refugee and Work Agency (UNRWA).
Some of those people are now expected to return to their homes as the fighting has stopped. But there remains a shortage of clean drinking water, damaging some of Gaza’s water and sanitation facilities and the lack of fuel to run these systems. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), about 800,000 people do not have access to safe piped water.
Electricity is also in short supply; During the bombardment, lightning struck for only a few hours a day. Those shortages also affected hospitals, which rely on incubators, surgeries and generators to treat injured patients. Medical supplies and equipment are enhanced.
He’s Already Taxing a Health Care System plagued by pandemic, which must now cure the coronavirus and the trauma of war. There is also a growing fear of another coronovirus spike, as violence forced some people to visit crowded shelters and halt the area’s vaccination campaign.
International aid organizations and humanitarian groups are rushing to meet this need – and prepare for the reconstruction process.
The reality of the last two weeks is also coming to the fore. Although Israeli officials have repeatedly said They sought to reduce civilian casualties, the death toll is high: more than 240 Palestinians were killed, including children over 60, according to the Hamas-affiliated Gaza Health Ministry. More than 6,700 have been injured, According to the World Health Organization.
“The bombs are not falling, and everyone is relieved to move on with their lives,” said Jack Byrne, Palestine Country Director an age, an organization that works with Palestinian and other refugees in the region, said.
“But the reality of what happened to the dying people is now affecting people after the relief of this ban,” he said.
Gaza is pushed to the brink
About two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, a small strip of land 140 square miles Which is between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
Israel has imposed a blockade since the Islamic terrorist group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 Of commercial goods flow In the area where destroyed the economy and deny the Palestinians basic needs. For this reason, Gaza is often described as one “Open Air Jail.”
The ongoing war between Hamas and Israel has added to the crisis. Israel has launched several military operations in Gaza, including an air campaign and ground offensive in late 2008 and early 2009, a major bombing campaign in 2012, and another air/ground attack in the summer of 2014.
Gaza is then plunged into a state of crisis, made more intense by this latest round of fighting. Many international, regional and local NGOs and UN-funded agencies, such as UNICEF and UNRWA, a long-standing agency that works with Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the region, maintain a sustainable presence, economic development. Provides; Agriculture; and many others, including women’s, youth and mental health programs.
Now, for most, the mission has shifted to trying to meet the most urgent needs of the people in Gaza.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has begun to allow an increased flow of goods, which slowed during the fighting. Due to border closures.
The conflict also complicated the ability to deliver aid, or fully assess what was happening on the ground. Hojaifa Yajji, area manager in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), who spoke to me before the ceasefire, said the insecurity had “left no way of assessing the situation, finding a safe road for our humanitarian workers”. So that they can work. “
The ceasefire has removed the biggest obstacle to aid delivery. Food, first aid kits, medicines and fuel are now mostly unabated. But now groups are rushing to provide assistance as soon as possible, and to ensure that they can find the families who need them the most.
Gaza’s health care system is also being tested. Due to the disruption of the 14-year blockade and the region, it was extended even before the outbreak of the fighting. had just experienced a covid-19 surge.
Aid workers said medical facilities lack basic supplies and equipment such as blood bags. two leading doctors – Head of Internal Medicine at Al-Shifa Hospital, who trained other doctors, and a neurologist – was killed in an airstrike last week.
According to the World Health Organization, 19 health facilities have been damaged in the Gaza Strip. A primary health care clinic in northern Gaza was destroyed and an Israeli air raid damaged Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Trauma and Burns Care Clinic last weekend. No one was hurt in the clinic, but according to MSF, the bomb broke the room where the clinic sterilizes its medical equipment. The clinic, which typically serves about 1,500 patients a year, had to be closed.
MSF medical coordinator in Palestinian territories, Natalie Thurtle, said the closure meant less serious injuries would have to be flown to hospitals, including people to deal with more serious injuries. Injured by air raid.
Concerns are also rising about the resurgence of the coronavirus. a blast The destroyed Already the only laboratory in Gaza to process a limited number of COVID-19 tests. With thousands displaced, many sought safety in crowded schools or shelters, or moved in with other family members, making social distance impossible.
Violence interrupted of Gaza Small COVID-19 vaccination campaign. World Health Organization China’s Sinopharm is sending about 10,000 doses of the vaccine. But even with that coming aid, many humanitarian activists fear chaos and confusion and Gaza still precarious could give Covid-19 a chance for a resurgence.
The cease-fire will help in getting significant assistance. But the damage has already been done.
The end of the fight is the first step, but it will not completely eliminate the already ongoing crisis. There is a humanitarian crisis.
“The population of Gaza will not be able to recover easily from this,” MSF’s Thurtle told me.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have lost their homes; The already fragile infrastructure will have to be rebuilt. These are also visible signs of a trauma Gaza has recently gone through, and is first, many times.
And humanitarian groups said another generation in Gaza would now be hurt by the war. According to the OCHA, more than 40 schools were damaged during the bombing. The NRC was already providing psychosocial support to around 75,000 children in the age group of 5 to 15 years.
At least 11 of the dozens of children killed in Gaza were already involved in his programs, some of them siblings. The Norwegian Refugee Council’s Palestine Advocacy Head Ivan Karakashian told me that the NRC will now provide emergency education and mental health support to children who are currently in shelters or living with host families.
“After 12 years of closure and four armed conflicts, children are suffering badly,” said Damien Rance of UNICEF’s Palestine Office. “And really, what we need to do is allow for a respite and some relief, so we can at least pick up the pieces and try and rebuild.”
There is dire need, but there is also a sense of déj vu: Gaza has been here before. The ceasefire is only a temporary fix. Every time there is a cycle of hostility, without resolving the underlying crisis, Karakashian said, “We are just re-building and rebuilding and rebuilding.”
The economic situation, always uncertain, will break even more. The moment they make progress, Yazzy told me, something happens, and you have to go back and redo all that work, everything again from scratch.
“We will resume our work and start rebuilding again to support the children and their teachers, their parents and then something new will happen,” Yaji said.
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