Gaza: our humanity trapped
For almost two weeks, our humanitarian organizations have watched, in dismay and helplessness, a terrible escalation of violence and terror in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
© SERGEY PONOMAREV, THE NEW YORK TIMES
The unprecedented horror of targeted attacks on hundreds of civilians in Israel has shifted to Gazan civilians suffering indiscriminate reprisals. And it seems that nothing and no one is spared. Our colleagues in Jerusalem and Gaza tell us daily of the unprecedented seriousness of the situation. The figures are incomprehensible: more than 5,000 dead, including an estimated 1,000 children, and 18,000 injured, hundreds of hostages, humanitarian workers and journalists killed and hundreds of bodies still buried under the rubble.
In Gaza, more than 12,000 injured people lack treatment while 51 attacks on health facilities have been documented. The most recent and most serious, the bombing of Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza this Tuesday evening, led to the immediate death of more than 500 people, mostly children. These deliberate attacks on the civilian population and critical infrastructure are intolerable and must stop, as required by international humanitarian law.
The impossible survival of Gazans
Day after day, the grip of violence closes and the Palestinian enclave finds itself a little more cut off from the world. Telecommunications networks as well as roads and sewage treatment plants were bombed. Access to clean water is now almost exhausted, drastically increasing the risk of outbreaks of deadly infectious diseases, such as cholera. In Rafah, on the border with Egypt, women, children and men are crowded into makeshift shelters inside schools in unspeakably unsanitary conditions.
Right now, 2.2 million people are at risk of dying from hunger, disease or bombings. This risk is imminent, real and intolerable, while, in the face of extreme and widespread violence, the delivery of humanitarian aid is currently impossible. Our teams on the ground are doing everything they can to organize themselves, even if they themselves are displaced and have to take care of their loved ones. To date, 36 of our colleagues have been killed. Our trucks filled with water, food and medicine remain stuck at the border.
An immediate ceasefire to protect the population and deliver aid
For several days our organizations and many others have been calling on the parties to the conflict and world leaders to give priority, despite everything, to the preservation of human life, because any other response will forever be a stain on our collective conscience.
The situation in Gaza demands an immediate ceasefire. The recent international negotiations allowing aid to enter via Egypt are a welcome first step, but largely insufficient given the gravity of the situation and the pervasive security concerns. The current urgency is to protect Palestinian and Israeli civilians and humanitarian and healthcare personnel from attacks. Furthermore, we are very concerned to see the situation flaring on the borders of Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria, which foreshadows the threat of a widespread humanitarian crisis in the region.
Op-Ed letter signed by Anne Delorme, Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion Canada; Béatrice Vaugrante, Executive Director, Oxfam-Québec; Nadja Pollaert, Executive Director, Médecins du Monde Canada.