Gaza’s health crisis ‘catastrophic,’ say Palestinian experts

Untreated sewage and overcrowding are leading to the rapid spread of disease, while three-quarters of the Strip’s hospitals have stopped functioning.

In late November, Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, warned that without urgent action to repair the Gaza Strip’s rapidly collapsing health system, more people would soon die from disease than from Israel’s bombings. “[There are] no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene and no food,” she said, summarizing the dire humanitarian conditions amid Israel’s ongoing bombardment and intensified siege.

Nearly a month later, the full extent of the crisis is still not being fully comprehended outside of the Strip, according to Palestinian health care professionals in Gaza. “The information, statistics, and news circulating worldwide only scratches the surface of the actual reality,” Dr. Adnan al-Wahidi, a child health expert from Gaza City, told +972. “It captures just a small fraction of the alarming health situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Read more on +972 Magazine

Human Rights Watch: Israel: Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza

Evidence Indicates Civilians Deliberately Denied Access to Food, Water

  • The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which is a war crime.
  • Israeli officials have made public statements expressing their aim to deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water, and fuel – statements reflected in Israeli forces’ military operations.
  • The Israeli government should not attack objects necessary for the survival of the civilian population, lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, and restore electricity and water. 

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the occupied Gaza Strip, which is a war crime, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to their survival.

Since Hamas-led fighters attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, high-ranking Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Energy Minister Israel Katz have made public statements expressing their aim to deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water and fuel – statements reflecting a policy being carried out by Israeli forces. Other Israeli officials have publicly stated that humanitarian aid to Gaza would be conditioned either on the release of hostages unlawfully held by Hamas or Hamas’ destruction.

“For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza's population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “World leaders should be speaking out against this abhorrent war crime, which has devastating effects on Gaza’s population.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 displaced Palestinians in Gaza between November 24 and December 4. They described their profound hardships in securing basic necessities. “We had no food, no electricity, no internet, nothing at all,” said one man who had left northern Gaza. “We don’t know how we survived.”

Read more at Human Rights Watch

The U.S. Must Change Course on Gaza Today 

Michelle Nunn, Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Jan Egeland, Abby Maxman, Jeremy Konyndyk and

Ms. Nunn is president and C.E.O. of CARE USA. Ms. McKenna is C.E.O. of Mercy Corps. Mr. Egeland is secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Ms. Maxman is president and C.E.O. of Oxfam America. Mr. Konyndyk is president of Refugees International. Ms. Soeripto is president and C.E.O. of Save the Children U.S.

We are no strangers to human suffering — to conflict, to natural disasters, to some of the world’s largest and gravest catastrophes. We were there when fighting erupted in Khartoum, Sudan. As bombs rained down on Ukraine. When earthquakes leveled southern Turkey and northern Syria. As the Horn of Africa faced its worst drought in years. The list goes on.

But as the leaders of some of the world’s largest global humanitarian organizations, we have seen nothing like the siege of Gaza. In the more than two months since the horrifying attack on Israel that killed more than 1,200 people and resulted in some 240 abductions, about 18,000 Gazans — including more than 7,500 children — have been killed, according to the Gazan health ministry. More children have been reported killed in this conflict than in all major global conflicts combined last year.

The atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 were unconscionable and depraved, and the taking and holding of hostages is abhorrent. The calls for their release are urgent and justified. But the right to self-defense does not and cannot require unleashing this humanitarian nightmare on millions of civilians. It is not a path to accountability, healing or peace. In no other war we can think of in this century have civilians been so trapped, without any avenue or option to escape to save themselves and their children.

Most of our organizations have been operating in Gaza for decades. But we can do nothing remotely adequate to address the level of suffering there without an immediate and complete cease-fire and an end to the siege. The aerial bombardments have rendered our jobs impossible. The withholding of water, fuel, food and other basic goods has created an enormous scale of need that aid alone cannot offset.

(see the full opinion piece on the NY Times).



URGENT: Stop genocide against Palestinians in Gaza (call now)

Over 7,000 children have been killed. We need a ceasefire now! The humanitarian situation is worse by the day and Palestinians fear another Nakba (ethnic cleansing).

Please call, write and call again!

Film: Israelism

Monday, December 11th at 8pm Eastern Time:


About the event

Israelism Free Virtual Screening (open to North America viewers only)

We will be holding a Free Virtual Screening of Israelism on Monday, December 11th, at 8pm ET, followed by a Q&A with the team. This screening is for a North America audience only, we hope to bring the film to a wider international audience soon. Limited space is available. Sign up here, and you’ll receive an email with a link to watch.

Israelism explores the quickly changing American Jewish relationship with Israel, and features interviews with Simone Zimmerman, Peter Beinart, Sami Awad, Noura Erakat, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Abe Foxman, Rebecca Pierce, and many others.

Israelism premiered at Big Sky Film Festival in Feb 2023, and has won awards at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Tallgrass Film Festival, Arizona International Film Festival, and Brooklyn Film Festival. It has been covered in the pages of Jacobin, the Forward, YNet, and the NYT.

Donate to Tikkun Olam Productions, the non-profit behind Israelism, to support the film:


About the film

When two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians, their lives take sharp left turns. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaism’s relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide over modern Jewish identity.



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