One month on from the ceasefire, Gaza still needs our attention

After killing 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injuring nearly 2,000 others, Israel’s 11-day military offensive on Gaza was finally brought to a halt with a ceasefire on 21 May. One month on, Palestinians in Gaza are still rebuilding their homes and lives, and many will suffer physical and psychological scars for years to come.

While the international spotlight moves away from Gaza, the ongoing suffering of the two million Palestinians living there still demands our attention. Gaza’s health system was already struggling amid a chronic lack of medical supplies and equipment following 14 years of blockade and illegal closure and the demands of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the assault in May, things were made even worse. 22 hospitals and primary healthcare clinics were damaged, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination centres. The health system remains on the brink of collapse.

At the height of the violence, 113,000 Palestinians were forced to seek shelter and protection at UNRWA schools or with host families. With more than 1,100 houses and commercial units completely destroyed and more than 20,000 damaged by bombing, there are still around 8,400 internally displaced people. The UN estimates that it will take years to rebuild Gaza.

The violence will have untold long-term effects on the mental health and wellbeing of Gaza’s population, particularly children, many of whom have already been traumatised by previous military offensives in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014, and the restrictions on everyday life.  

Throughout the emergency and since the ceasefire, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has been continuously responding on the ground. We have worked tirelessly with partners to get urgent medical aid, including drugs and disposables, to hospitals so that the injured can get the treatment they need. We have also continued our vital support to limb reconstruction, neurosurgery and blood bank services. Through a combination of procuring emergency medical supplies and expanding existing projects to support Gaza’s recovery, MAP has increased programme expenditure by $2 million this year.

In the coming months we aim to upscale support for our emergency response and procure essential items, including: hygiene kits for people who have been forced to flee their destroyed homes; antibiotics, anaesthetics, dressings and fluids; and the specialist equipment needed to reconstruct the limbs of adults and children who suffered severe crush injuries.

With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, next month we aim to send our first limb reconstruction delegation in more than a year. The visiting medics will assess current needs and provide training and support to the local limb reconstruction team.

MAP will continue to treat the situation in Gaza as an emergency, and it is important that the international community views it this way too. Since May, the pace of international humanitarian response and access for essential goods including reconstruction materials has been glacially slow. Continued international inaction risks prolonging a decades-long crisis and further neglecting the health and dignity of millions of people.

While responding to the immediate humanitarian needs is a priority, the international community must also address systemic human rights abuses that are the root cause of the recent hostilities. This includes taking immediate steps to end the blockade and illegal closure, and ensuring genuine investigation and accountability for attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel.

MAP is grateful for any support you can give to help our ongoing response. Please consider making a donation today.

Donate

Photo: Palestinians inspect a damaged tower building, which was hit in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Gaza City. © 2021 UNRWA photo by Mohamed Hinnawi.

Keep up to date

Sign up for our newsletter to receive all the latest updates from our programmes, campaigns and fundraising appeals.