Civilians in Gaza Struggle for Basic Necessities Amidst Escalating Tensions with Israel

by Joshua Brown
Gaza Hospitals

Civilians in Gaza, numbering at 2.3 million, grapple with an intensifying shortage of food, water, and safety as tensions escalate and fears of an Israeli invasion grow. A week after an attack by Hamas militants on Israel left hundreds dead, numerous residents are heeding Israel’s warning to evacuate the north, while some are seeking refuge in hospitals.

Israel, buoyed by an increased U.S. naval presence in the vicinity, has marshaled its forces along the Gaza border in preparation for a widespread operation aimed at neutralizing Hamas. Despite a week-long aerial bombardment campaign that has leveled entire communities, rocket attacks from militants into Israel persist.

In Israel, forensic experts and other specialists are laboring to identify over 1,300 fatalities—including Israelis and others—resulting from the Hamas attack on October 7. As for Gaza, the Health Ministry reported on Saturday that the death toll has risen to more than 2,200, including 724 minors and 458 women.

Israeli forces have dropped leaflets over northern Gaza City and renewed their warnings on social media platforms, urging over one million Palestinians—nearly half of the territory’s inhabitants—to relocate southward. The Israeli military contends that this is a measure to protect civilians before launching a large-scale offensive against Hamas, particularly targeting what they claim are underground bunkers in Gaza City. Hamas, however, is advising residents to stay put.

Humanitarian organizations, including the U.N. and various aid groups, warn that such mass displacement, compounded by the ongoing blockade by Israel, will have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. The World Health Organization stated that evacuating could be a “death sentence” for over 2,000 patients in hospitals in the north, including neonates in incubators and those in intensive care units. Fuel shortages for emergency generators are expected to hit crisis levels within two days, putting thousands of lives at risk, according to the U.N.

The Israeli-imposed blockade has already plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with dwindling water supplies and medical essentials. Power plants have been forced to shut down, exacerbating the hardships. Residents report that even securing bread for their families is becoming increasingly difficult.

As tension continues to mount, Haifa Khamis al-Shurafa, a resident of Gaza City, joined six family members in a car, fleeing southward under the cover of darkness. “We don’t deserve this,” she stated as she left her hometown. The Israeli military revealed that “hundreds of thousands” have complied with the evacuation warning, offering a six-hour safe travel window that ended on Saturday, although no firm deadline for the evacuation has been set.

Relatives of approximately 150 individuals captured by Hamas in Israel and taken to Gaza gathered outside the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, demanding the release of their loved ones. “This is my plea to the global community: Please assist in bringing back my family, my wife, and three children,” implored Avihai Brodtz of Kfar Azza. Many expressed frustration with the government’s lack of information about their family members.

Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, accused Hamas of utilizing civilians as human shields in a televised statement on Saturday night. He announced broad forthcoming attacks on Gaza City but did not specify a timeframe.

On Sunday, the Israeli military confirmed that an airstrike in southern Gaza had killed a Hamas commander implicated in attacks at Nirim, one of several communities targeted in southern Israel. Over the night, more than 100 military objectives, including command centers and rocket-launching sites, were hit by Israel.

In a strategic move, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the deployment of a second carrier strike group, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the eastern Mediterranean. This action is designed to deter Hamas allies such as Iran or Hezbollah in Lebanon from escalating the conflict further.

Hamas continues to stand defiant, with a senior official, Ismail Haniyeh, stating in a televised address that the Palestinian spirit will not be broken, despite the widespread loss of life.

The rising death toll includes at least 27 people killed and another 80 wounded in an Israeli airstrike near the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, according to health authorities. The majority of victims were women and children.

Inside Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, an estimated crowd of 35,000 people have gathered, believing the medical facility to be a sanctuary from the looming attack. Medical officials warn that medical supplies have been depleted by 95%, and clean water and fuel are critically low.

For those unable to evacuate, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians has expressed particular concern for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The agency also reiterated calls for Israel to avoid targeting civilians and essential infrastructure like hospitals and schools.

The dire situation in hospitals is summarized by the hospital director Mohammad Abu Selim: “The situation inside the hospital is miserable in every sense of the word. The operating rooms don’t stop.”

Reported by DeBre and Krauss from Jerusalem, with contributions from Julia Frankel in Jerusalem and Samya Kullab in Baghdad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza humanitarian crisis

What is the current situation in Gaza regarding civilian access to food and water?

The civilians in Gaza are facing a deepening struggle for basic necessities like food and water. Some bakeries have closed, leading to complaints from residents who cannot buy bread for their families. The already existing humanitarian crisis is worsening due to a growing shortage of water and medical supplies.

What actions are Israeli forces taking along the Gaza border?

Israeli forces are positioning themselves along Gaza’s border, supported by an increasing deployment of U.S. warships in the region. They are preparing for what Israel describes as a broad campaign to dismantle militant groups in Gaza. The Israeli military has also dropped leaflets and issued warnings on social media, directing more than 1 million Palestinians to move south.

How many casualties have been reported on both sides?

As of the report, the Gaza Health Ministry indicated that over 2,200 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 minors and 458 women. In Israel, more than 1,300 Israelis and others were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault.

What role is the United States playing in the conflict?

The U.S. has been moving warships to the region in support of Israeli forces. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that a second carrier strike group, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, is being moved to the eastern Mediterranean as a show of force.

What is the stance of international organizations like the U.N. and WHO?

The United Nations and aid groups have expressed concern that a rapid exodus of civilians, along with Israel’s complete siege of Gaza, would lead to untold human suffering. The World Health Organization mentioned that the evacuation could be “tantamount to a death sentence” for more than 2,000 patients in northern hospitals.

What measures are being taken to protect hospitals in Gaza?

Gaza’s hospitals are running critically low on fuel for emergency generators. The U.N. has stated that they expect hospitals to run out of fuel within two days, putting thousands of patients at risk. People are crowding into hospitals like al-Shifa, hoping that these facilities will be spared in any forthcoming attacks.

How many Palestinians have heeded Israel’s warning to move south?

The Israeli military reported that “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians had heeded the warning and headed south, although it has not set a firm deadline for the evacuation.

What is Hamas’s current stance?

Hamas remains defiant despite the escalating conflict. A top official, Ismail Haniyeh, stated in a televised speech that “all the massacres” will not break the Palestinian people.

What are the conditions inside Gaza hospitals?

Conditions inside Gaza hospitals like al-Shifa are described as miserable, with medical supplies running dangerously low. Operating rooms are continuously active, and the fuel needed for power is dwindling.

What impact has the Israeli military’s evacuation order had on the Gaza population?

The Israeli military’s evacuation order has led to a massive internal displacement, cramming the territory’s entire population into the southern half of Gaza. An estimated 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza in one week.

More about Gaza humanitarian crisis

  • Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
  • Israeli Military Preparations
  • U.S. Involvement in the Israel-Gaza Conflict
  • United Nations Statement on Gaza
  • World Health Organization’s Concerns for Gaza
  • Casualty Numbers in Israel and Gaza
  • Conditions in Gaza Hospitals
  • Hamas’s Stance Amid Conflict
  • Israeli Defense Ministry Statement
  • Displacement and Evacuation in Gaza

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Alex Johnson October 15, 2023 - 9:09 am

U.S involvement just makes it more complicated, doesn’t it? Feels like this is far from over and it’s terrifying to think of the human toll.

Linda Scott October 15, 2023 - 12:41 pm

Where is the accountability? Someone needs to step in and halt this, immediately. We are in 21st century, for God’s sake!

Mike Anderson October 15, 2023 - 7:42 pm

Its really shocking to know that hospitals are running out of fuel. What happens to those who are already sick? This is a ticking time bomb.

John Smith October 15, 2023 - 8:04 pm

This is just heartbreaking, man. People struggling for basic needs like food and water while caught in the middle of political turmoil. Where is the end?

David Miller October 15, 2023 - 9:09 pm

Those casualty numbers are horrifying. More than a thousand on each side? This isn’t a war, it’s a massacre.

Rachel Simmons October 15, 2023 - 9:10 pm

This article really drives home the gravity of the situation. Can’t believe this is the state of the world today. Makes you lose faith in humanity.

Sarah Davis October 15, 2023 - 9:29 pm

Have to say, this is a really well-rounded article. Covers everything from military action to the suffering of regular people. Still, it’s sad that this is the world we live in.

Emily Williams October 15, 2023 - 10:29 pm

i can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in that situation. Forcing a whole population to move within their own territory? It’s beyond words.

Nancy Lee October 15, 2023 - 10:49 pm

Over 2,200 killed in Gaza alone, and that includes women and kids. How did we get here? Is there no way to resolve conflicts without such loss?

Robert Clark October 16, 2023 - 1:02 am

Isn’t there anything that international organizations can do? They are issuing statements, but we need action not words! Lives are at stake.


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