Sewage systems have been destroyed, sending fetid wastewater into the streets of Gaza City. A critical desalination plant that helped provide fresh water to 250,000 people is offline, and water pipes serving at least 800,000 people have been damaged. Landfills are closed, with trash piling up. And dozens of schools have been either damaged or ordered to close, forcing some 600,000 students to miss classes on Monday.
The nine-day battle between Hamas militants and the Israeli military has created a humanitarian catastrophe that is touching nearly every civilian living in Gaza, a coastal territory of about two million people.
The level of destruction and loss of human life have underlined the challenge in the Gaza Strip, already overpacked with people and suffering under the weight of an indefinite blockade by Israel and Egypt even before the latest conflict.
President Biden added his voice to the growing chorus of international leaders calling for a cease-fire on Monday night, but there was little indication that an end to the hostilities was near on Tuesday morning.
an economic crisis and political crisis.
Hamas won elections in the territory in 2006 and took full control in 2007, after which Israel put a blockade on the region, citing the need to curb weapons smuggling. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, also put in restrictions that tightly control the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.
according to a report last year by the United Nations, is that Gaza has “the world’s highest unemployment rate, and more than half of its population lives below the poverty line.”
The latest round of fighting has crippled that fragile infrastructure.
Six hospitals and eight clinics have suffered bomb damage, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office, basically making medical treatment impossible for most people living in the region.
By Monday, Israeli bombs had destroyed 132 residential buildings and damaged 316 housing units so badly that they were uninhabitable, according to Gaza’s housing ministry.
More than 40,000 people have been forced into shelters and thousands more have sought refuge with friends or relatives, according to the U.N. humanitarian affairs office.
“Until a cease-fire is reached, all parties must agree to a ‘humanitarian pause,’” the office said in a statement. “These measures would allow humanitarian agencies to carry out relief operations, and people to purchase food and water and seek medical care.”