Inhumane Conditions – Gaza Residents Rely On Soup Kitchens For Food, Have Little Or No Water

Gaza Food
Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali) [AP Photo]

As the Israel-Hamas war passed the 100-day mark this week, the Gaza Strip continues to be devastated amid the conflict, with women and children said to be the majority of casualties — and those still in Gaza desperate for aid.

An ABC News report cited Maryam Al-Dahdouh, a pregnant mother of four:

“I walk a kilometer on my feet, back and forth every day, every day, for my children to eat.”

“There is no water, so we walk miles to get a bottle of water for the children. Four children, I am pregnant, and there is no food at all. I am a pregnant mother. This pregnant mother has not eaten eggs, milk or anything healthy for three months until now,” Maryam Al-Dahdouh told ABC News on Wednesday at a soup kitchen in Rafah, in southern Gaza Al-Dahdouh said.


The ABC News report said:

Since the Hamas terrorist group’s surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, that killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, the death toll on both sides of the conflict has been rising. More than 24,000 people have been killed in Gaza and over 61,000 others injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others injured, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office. Israeli officials say 526 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers have been killed since the ground operations in Gaza began.

The IDF has said it is only targeting Hamas and other militants in Gaza and alleges that Hamas deliberately shelters behind civilians, which the group denies.

60% Homes Destroyed

More than 60% of homes in Gaza have been destroyed, the United Nations said in a press release Tuesday. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that about 85% of Gaza’s population, or 1.9 million people, has been forced to flee their homes, many of them now living in tents in southern Gaza in very difficult conditions and reliant on the limited aid that is being delivered from Egypt.

“The sheer mass of civilians on the border is hard to fathom and the conditions they live in are inhumane,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban told ABC News in a statement issued after he returned from Gaza on Thursday.

Uninhabitable

The U.N. warns that with so little aid reaching those who need it in Gaza, famine is becoming increasingly likely.

“Gaza has simply become uninhabitable. Its people are witnessing daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on,” Martin Griffiths, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said in a Jan. 5 statement.

Famine Around Corner

“Infectious diseases are spreading in overcrowded shelters as sewers spill over. Some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth daily amidst this chaos. People are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded. Famine is around the corner,” Griffiths said.

ABC News saw those signs of hunger at the soup kitchen in Rafah on Wednesday. Hundreds of people lined up, clutching containers hoping for some food from the vats bubbling with pasta and soup, many of them children looking gaunt and hungry.

“We stand for a long time in line, and sometimes we come and find that they have not cooked anything and we wait,” Umm Mohammed told ABC News as she stood in line. “And sometimes we come and find that everything is finished and we go and don’t take anything.”

Cold, Rain, Rivers Of Waste

“Water is scarce and poor sanitation is inescapable. The cold and rain this week created rivers of waste. The little food that is available does not meet children’s unique nutritional needs. As a result, thousands of children are malnourished and sick,” Chaiban said.

Among those children who are sick are Al-Dahdouh’s little ones. “Our children got sick, literally sick, all day sick, fever, vomiting, diarrhea all day, not a single one of them is healthy,” she said.

Most Dangerous Place On Earth

“UNICEF has described the Gaza Strip as the most dangerous place in the world to be a child,” Chaiban said.

“We have said this is a war on children. But these truths do not seem to be getting through. Of the nearly 25,000 people reported to have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the escalation in hostilities, up to 70% are reported to be women and children. The killing of children must cease immediately,” he added.

UN Agency Chief Warns Of Bleak Post-war Future For Gazans

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, warned Wednesday of the bleak future facing Gazans after the war between Hamas and Israel ends.

Following his fourth visit to the Palestinian territory since the war erupted on October 7, the UNRWA chief said many residents are no longer able to see “the future in the Gaza Strip”.

“You have hundreds of thousands of people living now in the street, living in these plastic makeshift (tents), sleeping on the concrete,” Mr Lazzarini told journalists in Jerusalem.

More People Are Likely To Die Of Hunger And Famine Than War

Mohammad Mustafa, the Palestine investment fund chairman, said more people in Gaza are likely to die of hunger and famine than war.

The first steps should be to bring food, medicine, water and electricity back to the besieged enclave, he said.

He estimated that rebuilding housing units in Gaza would need at least $15 billion.

Mustafa said, while speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, that reconstruction efforts will be huge and the financial needs significant.

Jordan Says Its Gaza Hospital ‘Badly Damaged’ By Israeli Shelling

The Jordanian army said its military field hospital in the city of Khan Younis in Gaza was badly damaged as a result of Israeli shelling in the vicinity.

In a statement, the army said it held Israel responsible for a “flagrant breach of international law”.

The Israeli military says it is looking into the allegations.

Israel ‘Steps Up Strikes In South’

Israel stepped up strikes in the southern Gaza Strip, with air strikes and artillery fire targeting Khan Younis throughout the night, said an AFP correspondent.

“It was the most difficult and intense night in Khan Younis since the start of the war,” said Gaza’s Hamas-run government, whose health ministry reported 81 deaths across the Palestinian territory.

‘The World Is Standing By As Civilians Are Killed’

Parties to the conflict in Gaza are “trampling” on international law, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, said as he urged them to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Speaking at the WEF in Davos, Mr Guterres said the warring parties were “ignoring international law, trampling on the Geneva Conventions, and even violating the United Nations Charter”.

“The world is standing by as civilians, mostly women and children, are killed, maimed, bombarded, forced from their homes and denied access to humanitarian aid,” he said.

“I repeat my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, and a process that leads to sustained peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-state solution.”

‘We Cannot Have In Lebanon Another Gaza’

Antonio Guterres, has said he is “extremely worried about Lebanon”.

He told CNN: “We cannot have in Lebanon another Gaza.”

He added that it is “absolutely crucial to avoid a messy confrontation in Lebanon that will be the devastation of the country”.

Mr Guterres, who made the comments at the WEF in Davos, said resolving the situation in Gaza would “allow for…de-escalation in other parts of the Middle East”.

Aid

Two Qatari armed forces aircraft carrying 61 tons of aid landed in el-Arish, Egypt, on Wednesday, which was then transferred into Gaza, according to the Qatari Foreign Ministry. The assistance includes medicine for both Israeli hostages and Gaza citizens, and food, after Qatar and Egypt brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas. There has been no verification the Israeli hostages have received this medicine yet, according to the Qataris. There are still 136 hostages held captive by Hamas, Israeli officials say.

Tunnel ‘Wide Enough For Hamas Leader To Drive His Car Down’

A tunnel wide enough for a Hamas leader to drive his car underneath Gaza has reportedly been discovered by Israeli forces.

The passage was found as troops unearthed more of the terror group’s subterranean network in recent weeks, the New York Times reported.

Until last month, the tunnels were assessed to stretch for some 250 miles beneath the enclave.

But senior Israeli defence officials, cited by the newspaper, said estimates had been revised upwards in light of recent discoveries, with the network now thought to be between 350 and 450 miles in length.

The Gaza Strip itself is only estimated to be around 25 miles long and six miles wide.

One tunnel “stretched nearly three football fields long and was hidden beneath a hospital,” the New York Times reported.

Another, the newspaper said, “was wide enough for a top Hamas official to drive a car inside”.

Destroying the underground network has been one of Israel’s key aims of the war, but an official told the newspaper it could take years to destroy the system.

Senior military officers told The Economist that the IDF would not be able to destroy the entirety of the network.

Doing so would require each tunnel to be mapped, checked for hostages and made irreparable.

Recent attempts to destroy the network by flooding it with seawater have failed and the IDF previously conceded that it has yet to destroy half of the underground passages in Gaza.

Military leaders have been surprised by the quality and depth of the tunnels, according to the New York Times.

Two officials cited by the newspaper assessed that there were nearly 5,700 separate shafts leading down into the network.

Daphné Richemond-Barak, a tunnel warfare expert at Reichman University in Israel, said Israel’s stated goal of eradicating Hamas was dependent on destroying the tunnels.

“If you want to destroy the leadership and arsenal of Hamas, you have to destroy the tunnels,” he told the New York Times. “It’s become connected to every part of the military missions.”

Several Israelis who were held hostage by Hamas in the wake of the group’s October 7 attack have spoken about the spider web-like structures stretching beneath Gaza after being freed.

“We went underground and walked for kilometres in wet tunnels, for two or three hours, in a spider’s web of tunnels,” Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, told reporters in late October.

Israel ‘Kills Hamas Counter-espionage Official’ In Strike

The IDF claims it has killed Bilal Nofal, a Hamas counter-espionage officer in overnight strikes that also claimed the lives of six fighters in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF killed the Hamas officer in charge of interrogating suspected spies, in strikes in the southern district of the Strip.

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