‘There are no more words’ – Six months of Israel’s total siege and bombardment of Gaza

This weekend marked six months since the start of Israel’s military assault on Gaza. For 184 days, the international community has sat back and watched as Israel indiscriminately bombarded civilians, systematically dismantled Gaza’s health system, and used starvation as a weapon of war.

Since 7 October 2023, Israeli military attacks have killed more than 33,109 Palestinians, including 13,850 children, and injured at least 75,750 more. This is an average rate of 179 people killed, or 75 children, per day. The UN reported that the number of children reported killed by the Israeli military in Gaza is higher than the number of children killed in four years of wars around the world combined.

The Israeli military has also conducted more than 435 attacks on healthcare in Gaza and killed at least 484 healthcare workers. This is more than the total number of healthcare worker deaths recorded across all countries in conflict in 2021 and 2022 combined. The Israeli army has targeted almost every hospital, leaving none fully functional, for a population of over two million under intense military assault and facing a public health catastrophe of starvation, dehydration and infectious diseases.

The dire conditions are being exacerbated by Israel’s total siege and the denial of sufficient aid. The Israeli military has blocked aid convoys, killed more than 200 aid workers, and shot starving civilians trying to access food.

In January, the International Court of Justice issued legally binding provisional measures to prevent the risk of genocide, ordering Israel to facilitate the flow of aid and lessen humanitarian suffering in Gaza. Despite this, aid deliveries into Gaza actually halved in February. The famine that is setting in in the north of Gaza is a direct result of Israel’s actions; children in Gaza are being starved at the fastest rate the world has ever seen.

Melanie Ward, MAP’s CEO, said: “After six months of relentless, indiscriminate bombardment by the Israeli military, there are no more words I can use to adequately describe the horror and suffering being inflicted on Gaza’s civilians. There is no safe place left in Gaza – not for healthcare workers, not for children, not for civilians, not for aid workers.

“In a situation where Israel’s actions have crossed every feasible red line, world leaders must now find it in themselves to take the kind of concrete action that ends this horror. Attacks on healthcare must cease, Israel’s siege must be lifted, and an immediate ceasefire brokered to safeguard civilians and allow the health system to recover as soon as possible.”

Just last week, the Israeli military left Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa Hospital, in ruins and completely out of service following a two-week-long invasion and siege. At least 350,000 Palestinians in the north are now served by as few as 200 hospital beds, with Kamal Adwan and al-Ahli hospitals operating at just 30% and 70% capacity respectively.

Dr Tanya Haj-Hassan, a pediatric doctor who was part of MAP's emergency medical team working at Al Aqsa Hospital earlier this month, has said: “People think you’re safe when you’re working in a hospital but that’s clearly not the case here. We were having to pick who lived and died, because there are such limited resources. All the patients I saw were civilians. Almost all the Palestinian doctors I have spoken to have lost at least one loved one since the war started. Many of them have friends or family still missing, or colleagues arbitrarily detained by the army. It's hard to appreciate how much they have gone through. It’s really difficult to process the injustice of it.”

Irrespective of the UN Security Council’s legally binding resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel also has made clear its intention to invade Rafah. Such a move would take an already dire situation to catastrophic new levels, and lead to thousands more civilian deaths and injuries.

MAP repeats our urgent call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza to prevent further harm to civilians and to allow our teams to access and assist those in desperate need. International law prohibiting attacks on healthcare workers, aid workers, civilians, and civilian infrastructure must also be upheld by all parties, and those responsible for violations held accountable.

Famine is imminent in Gaza and half the population is facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity. Email your MP now to demand action to stop starving Gaza.

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Photo credit: Mohammed Zaanoun.

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