As the Israeli military’s ground invasion and aerial bombardment continue in Gaza, a catastrophic humanitarian crisis is unfolding, with an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians displaced into shrinking “humanitarian zones.” Among the many facing the brunt of this crisis is twelve-year-old Do’a Atef, who spends her days begging for food and gathering firewood in a refugee camp outside Rafah, southern Gaza.
Do’a, along with her parents and seven siblings, was displaced from her home in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza. Sleeping in tents, the family faces a severe shortage of essential supplies, including clean water, diapers for the baby, and milk. The dire living conditions have forced them to drink dirty water, and the scarcity of resources has left the children in distress.
This plight reflects the broader reality for many in Gaza, where lines for clean water can last for hours, supermarkets are empty, and people resort to collecting rainwater in a semi-arid environment. The price of essential items, such as a 25-kilogram sack of flour, has skyrocketed, making access to basic necessities increasingly difficult.
The ongoing Israeli offensive has led to a scarcity of aid, exacerbating struggles over water and raising the risk of infection and death. Aid agencies report children and families roaming the streets, unable to find food, while some resort to rationing water, consuming as little as a cup a day. The intensity of hostilities has hindered aid distribution, with only a fraction of the required humanitarian assistance entering Gaza.
International humanitarian groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, are sounding alarm bells, describing the situation as “apocalyptic” and “not survivable.” The lack of water and hygiene has led to the aggravation of diseases, including diarrhea, vomiting, and skin allergies, putting lives at immediate risk.
Despite calls for action and urgent intervention, the delivery of aid remains constrained by the ongoing conflict. The UN Secretary-General has warned of a high risk of a collapse in the humanitarian support system, anticipating a complete breakdown of public order. As desperation grows, locals have resorted to rushing aid trucks, further complicating relief efforts.
With limited aid entering the strip and increasing obstacles to distribution, the crisis in Gaza is reaching unprecedented levels, prompting humanitarian agencies to categorize the actions, including the use of starvation as a war weapon, as potential war crimes. The international community faces a race against time to address the immediate needs of the population and mitigate the looming catastrophe.