The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Armed Groups in Gaza are leading to the destructions and damages of critical basic services facilities such as hospitals, roads, desalination plants, schools, to only name a few.
In a situation where hostilities have intensified, claiming the lives of more than 213 Gazans and 12 Israelis, movements on the roads, access to clean and safe water and electricity are becoming more and more difficult. Such deterioration of the situation is amplified by a lack of resources and goods such as fuel and medicine and the danger of the situation preventing operators to reach damaged locations to conduct appropriate repairs. The humanitarian community continues to call for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to provide immediate support to the population in Gaza currently put under an intense pressure and to avoid a worsening of the humanitarian situation.
Since the beginning of the escalation of violence on May 09th, more than 75 incidents have affected water and sanitation networks – such as sewers, wells, water pumping stations, solid waste dumps or the desalination plant in northern Gaza, which supplies water to 250,000 people. These incidents are affecting access to water and sanitation services for more than 800,000 people in Gaza.
The impact on Gaza’s health system is already latent: the Gaza Ministry of Health has reported a lack of equipment in hospitals. Despite being protected under International Humanitarian Law, the Hala Al Shawa health center has been completely destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, and the Beit Hanoun and Indonesian hospitals, where Action Against Hunger works, have suffered damages that are currently being assessed. In addition, to treat the wounded, functioning hospitals are also now getting overcrowded, while they continue to treat COVID-19 cases due to the recent high infection rate in the Gaza Strip. Al Remal health center was in charge of conducting and providing the COVID 19 test results. It has been destroyed on May 17th by an airstrike making it almost impossible to keep track of the evolution of the pandemic.
This is adding another layer of complication in the current context, as Lucas Honauer emphasizes: “We are at a critical moment in which the Gaza Strip is facing very high contagion rate of Covid-19 and access to water and sanitation remains the first and easiest way to protect themselves.” On top of this, we need to consider the high level of displacements that are caused by the bombardments, resulting in overcrowded shelters without access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
In addition, the Energy supply is one of the biggest problems right now: fuel is running out which will have a direct impact on the production of electricity by the Gaza Power Plan. Power supply in Gaza has been reduced to less than 7 hours/ hours of electricity per day.
In this context it is essential that both sides respect International Humanitarian Law and allow humanitarian organisations to respond to this emergency with guarantees of safety for humanitarian staff.
Our teams on the fields are gathering information to assess the damages in order to design an adequate response to the needs of the civilian population. The security situation in the Gaza Strip remains highly unstable and humanitarian access is still challenging after 8 days of ongoing conflict.
Action against Hunger has been working in the West Bank since 2002 and in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Since then, it has successfully implemented Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Food Security programs with different approaches: emergency, protection, resilience, and development.