Water runs out at UN shelters in Gaza. Medics fear for patients as Israeli ground offensive looms

by Gabriel Martinez
Humanitarian Crisis

Water shortages have become a dire crisis at United Nations shelters in Gaza, where thousands have sought refuge amidst the looming threat of an Israeli ground offensive. Doctors in these overcrowded shelters are grappling with the challenge of caring for patients who face the risk of perishing once the generators exhaust their fuel supply.

The situation in Gaza is already grim, with its Palestinian residents enduring years of conflict. This latest Israeli operation, triggered by a Hamas militant attack on October 7th that claimed the lives of 1,300 Israelis, the majority of whom were civilians, has exacerbated the suffering. Israel has imposed a blockade, severing the flow of essential supplies like food, medicine, water, and electricity to Gaza. Airstrikes have pounded neighborhoods, and a mass evacuation order has been issued to approximately 1 million residents in the northern region in anticipation of Israel’s planned offensive. The Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 2,300 Palestinians have lost their lives since the recent outbreak of hostilities.

Amidst this crisis, humanitarian organizations are urgently calling for the safeguarding of Gaza’s more than 2 million civilians, emphasizing the need to establish an emergency corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, a healthcare professional at Nasser Hospital in the southern Khan Younis area, expresses deep concern, stating, “The difference with this escalation is we don’t have medical aid coming in from outside, the border is closed, electricity is off and this constitutes a high danger for our patients.” Doctors within the evacuation zone find it impossible to safely relocate their patients, so they have chosen to remain, committed to providing care even at the risk of their own lives.

Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, the head of pediatrics at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, echoes this sentiment, asserting, “We shall not evacuate the hospital even if it costs us our lives.” He highlights the plight of seven newborns in the intensive care unit, who would not survive if the medical team left. Additionally, there is a shortage of available healthcare facilities in the densely populated coastal territory, with hospitals already at full capacity, and new patients arriving daily with severe injuries.

The situation is dire for patients dependent on ventilators and those with complex blast injuries requiring constant care. Doctors fear that hospitals may be forced to shut down entirely as their fuel supplies for generators run critically low. United Nations humanitarian monitors estimate that this could occur as early as Monday.

Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, situated at the epicenter of the evacuation zone, is struggling to accommodate an estimated 35,000 individuals who have sought shelter within its premises. The hospital’s director, Mohammed Abu Selmia, acknowledges the immense difficulties faced by these displaced people as they hope for protection amidst the ongoing conflict. The hospital continues to receive hundreds of wounded individuals daily.

Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), reveals that around half a million Gaza residents have sought refuge in U.N. shelters, and they are rapidly running out of water. To address this, U.N. teams have initiated water rationing measures. Over the past 24 hours, a quarter of a million people in Gaza have moved to these shelters, many of which are U.N. schools where clean water supplies have become exhausted, according to Inas Hamdan, another UNRWA spokesperson.

Throughout Gaza, families are forced to ration their dwindling water supplies, with some resorting to drinking contaminated or brackish water. The hardship is palpable, as illustrated by Shaima al-Farra in Khan Younis, who remarks, “I am very happy that I was able to brush my teeth today, can you imagine what lengths we have reached?” The dire water shortage adds to the immense challenges faced by the people of Gaza in their struggle for survival amidst this escalating crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Humanitarian Crisis

What is the current situation in Gaza?

The current situation in Gaza is dire, with UN shelters running out of water as an Israeli ground offensive looms. Thousands have sought refuge in these shelters amidst the escalating conflict.

Why are doctors in the shelters concerned?

Doctors in the shelters are deeply concerned because they are struggling to care for patients, and there is a looming threat that generators will run out of fuel. This could lead to a crisis for patients in need of medical care.

What has led to this crisis in Gaza?

The crisis in Gaza has been triggered by an Israeli operation following a Hamas militant attack. Israel has imposed a blockade, cutting off essential supplies like food, medicine, water, and electricity to the region, which has exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian population.

How are humanitarian organizations responding to the situation?

Humanitarian organizations are urgently calling for the protection of Gaza’s civilian population and the establishment of an emergency corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

What is the status of clean water supplies in Gaza’s UN shelters?

Clean water supplies in Gaza’s UN shelters are running critically low, and UN teams have initiated water rationing measures. This poses a significant challenge to the well-being of the displaced individuals seeking refuge in these shelters.

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EconGuru October 15, 2023 - 2:49 pm

This crisis, it’s bad. Israel’s blockin’ aid, patients sufferin’. UN gotta act fast!

CarEnthusiast October 15, 2023 - 6:00 pm

Terrible news for Gaza. Situation worsenin’ with no water, no power. Sad days…

CryptoQueen October 16, 2023 - 10:20 am

Such a sad situation, no food, no water. They need help!


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