Maverick Citizen

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS

‘The basic necessities of human life are cut off’ — Gaza residents face gigantic humanitarian crisis

‘The basic necessities of human life are cut off’ — Gaza residents face gigantic humanitarian crisis
Palestinians transport the injured to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip on 9 October 2023 after relentless bombardents. (Photo: Bashar Taleb apaimages / Gift of the Givers Palestine)

‘There is no electricity, there is no water, the hospitals are about to shut down,’ said Gift of the Givers’ projects manager in Palestine, Hanin Barghouthi.

More than a week after Israel imposed a “complete siege” and cut off the entry of supplies to Gaza, people in the territory are facing an unprecedented crisis.

Hundreds of thousands in the north of the Gaza Strip fled their homes after Israel issued an evacuation order in preparation for an expected ground invasion — but they have nowhere safe to go to. For more than a week, Israeli airstrikes have pummelled Gaza in retaliation for attacks by Hamas militants on 7 October in which more than 1,300 people were killed and at least 200 were taken hostage

Chaos and misery in Gaza. Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

On 17 October, news broke that hundreds of patients, staff and people seeking shelter from Israeli bombs had been killed in an explosion at a hospital in Gaza, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave.

‘A real humanitarian crisis’ 

Speaking to Daily Maverick, Hanin Barghouthi, the projects manager at the Gift of the Givers’ Palestine office, said the situation in Gaza was “really bad”.

“Gaza is suffering now from a real crisis, a real humanitarian crisis. The airstrikes and the bombings are targeting … civilians, houses, schools, streets and everything. So that, of course, has led to thousands of deaths, thousands of injuries, and over a million people are displaced from their houses and seeking shelters in random places,” she said. 

“There has been no electricity for over a week. Hospitals are working on generators and the generators need fuel, so the hospitals are going to shut down in less than 24 hours if there is no fuel.”

gaza disaster

An injured Palestinian child waits at the hospital to be checked as battles between Israel and the Hamas movement continued for the sixth consecutive day in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on 12 October 2023. (Photo: Ahmed Tawfeq apaimages / Gift of the Givers Palestine)

Barghouthi said the Gift of the Givers team in Gaza had been working to provide them with essential supplies. The team of 60 was also working with local partners.

“Although the team themselves have left their houses and they are also displaced, and we always say that their safety is the top priority — they are doing everything possible to help,” she said.

The Gift of the Givers team has focused on assisting injured people with first aid and medical assistance, as well as helping displaced families, distributing water, food and basic necessities. 

“Of course, the escalation and the situation there has become really hard, and our team are facing difficulties in moving and reaching those with injuries and displaced people because 80% of the streets are closed and the rubble is everywhere —  and hundreds of bodies are still under the rubble,” Barghouthi said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis News Hub

The World Food Programme estimates that in normal times, more than 60% of Gaza’s population faces food insecurity. Barghouthi said this had been exacerbated under the tightened blockade of recent days.

“The basic necessities of any human life are now cut off in Gaza — the electricity, the water, the fuel, the foods — people are having a really hard time in finding food,” she said. 

gaza disaster

Gift of the Givers continues to provide hot, nutritious meals to displaced families seeking shelter in schools. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

gaza disaster

The Gift of the Givers team in Gaza distributes hot meals to the growing number of displaced civilians sheltering in schools. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

“There is no electricity, there is no water, the hospitals are about to shut down. The Ministry of Health has announced that we have less than 24 hours for most of the hospitals to keep working. 

“The hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, with dead bodies, with displaced people who are sheltering in hospitals thinking it is a safe place — but as we have seen with the bombing of the hospital, even the hospitals are not a safe place.”  

Barghouthi said hospitals had reached their capacity.

“The ambulances are out of service, the medical workers are also targeted. We have hundreds of medical workers, doctors, paramedics, nurses who were killed or injured during this war,” she said. 

Voices from Gaza

Naglaa Abu Nahla told Daily Maverick the situation in the Gaza Strip was very difficult, especially after the Israeli bombardment displaced the residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City to the borders of the valley.

Abu Nahla lives in Al-Qarara, east of the city of Khan Yunis, and her family are residents of Gaza. 

“They were displaced to the city of Rafah, and we are fine. My house was affected by the bombing. I have a museum containing 5,000 antiquities, and it was damaged. I opened my institution as a shelter centre for the displaced, and I try as much as I can to provide their needs with food, drink, and clothing,” she said.

gaza disaster

Gift of the Givers Palestine partnered with local businesses in Khan Younus, Dier al-Balah and East Gaza to distribute emergency shopping vouchers to Internally Displaced Persons. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

Abu Nahla said the entire population on the eastern border touching the separation wall had moved to the centre of Gaza, but there was not enough space for everyone.

“Many United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools, some hospitals and many houses were lined up, and people were all on top of each other,” she said.

“There was no aid, no electricity, and no fresh water for the needy, and food began to be scarce in the malls.”

Imtiaz Sooliman speaks out

“After the bombings started taking place and increasing in intensity, I sat back and thought to myself, ‘Why does this keep happening, over and over again?’” said ​Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, the Gift of the Givers’ founder.

Sooliman was speaking during a pledge line hosted by INX Prime on Thursday. The pledge sought to raise funds and also to serve as a platform to educate the public on the history of 75 years of Palestinian suffering in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

“We go through the same motions. They get bombed in 2009, you get relief teams, you get goods, you go inside, there is a ceasefire — it stops and life carries on. A few years later in 2014, the same thing happened. In 2022, the same thing happened,” he said.

gaza disaster

A Gift of the Givers team in Gaza distributes hot meals to the growing number of displaced civilians sheltering in schools. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

“We need to sit back and say, ‘We cannot allow this to go on any more.’ And the only way to do that is to educate the world because a lot of people have misinformation,” he said.

Understanding the context of the issue was key, Sooliman said. 

“People are resisting, because they’re under 75 years of oppression. How would you feel if somebody walked into your house and took it away? Walked into your land and took it away? Stopped you at hundreds of checkpoints in a place that’s smaller than Kruger Park? You can’t go to your holy place to worship, you need permission to go to your place to worship.

“In rules of engagement in war there is honour; even though there’s enemies, there is honour, there is decency, there’s a way of fighting using equal force,” he said.

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A Gift of the Givers team in Gaza has been sourcing and packaging bread for distribution to displaced families in desperate need. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

“You don’t beat women and children. The Israeli army is very used to fighting non-combatants. They feel very strong and powerful, but they beat unarmed women, unarmed children, old people, and they think they’re real men.”

Gift of the Givers staff have told Sooliman that what is happening now is different from the conflict in previous years.

“Their words were, and they’ve never said this before, ‘They’re massacring us, this is a genocide.’

“They’re attacking civilian buildings. They’ve hit 15 hospitals. They’ve hit 48 schools. They’ve hit mosques. They’re cutting off water. They’re cutting electricity. They’re cutting fuel,” Sooliman said. 

“The current crisis can only be described as a massacre, genocide, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, war crime, crimes against humanity, and a gigantic humanitarian crisis with disinformation and misinformation used as a weapon of war.”

Solidarity and urgent aid needed

Abu Nahla said she was trying to help as best as she could, but it was increasingly difficult to do so.

“People are in dire need of food and the provision of sanitary materials such as shampoo, soap, and bathrobes. We have reached the point where we use wastewater to collect it and pour it into barrels for bathing and cooking food,” she said. 

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The Gift of the Givers team in Palestine is visiting hospitals in the Gaza Strip to deliver essential medical assistance. (Photo: Gift of the Givers Palestine)

“I don’t know what more I can say about our situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli occupation is asking us to immigrate to Egypt, and Egypt rejects this decision. They say that if the Palestinians are displaced, they must be displaced to the Negev. The Israeli occupation army is preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, and if the ground invasion takes place, no one will be able to go out into the street. Therefore, we need to provide aid to the people before it is too late.”

Barghouthi thanked the people of South Africa for their continued support.

“The people of South Africa have always been and will always be great supporters for the Palestinians. They have gone through what we are going through, so we always send our thanks and gratitude to the people of South Africa for always standing with us,” she said. 

“We want you to keep us in your prayers, we want your help in fundraising, and your help in pushing the authorities and the governments to do anything to stop this — because the situation in Gaza is a crisis … the humanitarian situation is a disaster.” 

Barghouthi stressed the importance of urgent humanitarian aid.

“If humanitarian aid is not allowed as soon as possible, thousands of civilians are going to lose their lives,” she said.  

Donors have been asked to support Gift of the Givers’ ongoing efforts to provide rapid emergency relief to Gaza’s displaced people during this humanitarian crisis.

Online donations can be made here, while the banking details are here. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Patrick O'Shea says:

    ‘There is no electricity, there is no water, the hospitals are about to shut down’
    Sounds like SA.

    • ingy poni says:

      Comments like this and others below show exactly the kind of ilk we have had to deal with in this country. Children and the vulnerable are dying in the most painful way and an individual sitting on their comfortable connected computer or laptop istaking the opportunity to make snide comments about SA at the expense of the plight of a people under siege! This baffles the mind truly.

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    Sooliman completely forgot to mention that if Hamas releases the Israeli hostages then the circumstances will improve immediately.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I’m constantly amazed at some people’s expectation that Israel should continue to provide water and electricity to the population of a territory that elected a ‘party’ whose plainly stated objective is Israel’s destruction. It was odd that they were doing it before the enormous terrorist slaughter, rape and abduction fest of the weekend and seems inconceivable that they would do it now.

    • Louise Louise says:

      Perhaps the history of the occupation of Palestine gives the answer? Prior to 1948 there was no occupation of Palestine by the Zionists. The Palestinians are fully controlled by Israel, they have no choice of where their water and power come from. I’m not justifying the killing or violence, please don’t get me wrong, not at all. I do not condone violence from any side. But we do need to understand the true history of why we have this awful, horrific tragedy today.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        The history is a nice to know. The reality of the situation is what it is. The Palestinians in Gaza at least are fully controlled by the Hamas government they elected. Israeli Jews are not going to vanish any more than Palestinians are. So long as the Israelis are facing an existential threat from Hamas, Hezbollah and their handlers and paymasters in Iran, all of whom are quite clear in articulating their intent to wipe Israel out, peace is impossible. It’s fantastical to think that unilateral actions on the part of Israel will change the behaviour of organizations who’s raison d’etre is their destruction. It may be cuddly but it’s not realistic.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        ” they have no choice of where their water and power come from.”

        That is utterly untrue. Many billions of dollars of aid have ben poured into the Gaza over years. The UN alone pumped in 4.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 and there were numerous other sources. If the elected government of the place chose to use more of it to build infrastructure and less on rockets, tunnels and weaponry they could probably be self sufficient by now.

        • Louise Louise says:

          That’s a very interesting point. Before I start searching, can you perhaps please point me to where you found this information that the UN has given billions of dollars to Gaza?

          • Ben Harper says:

            google is your friend

          • Ben Harper says:

            US$ 5.2 Billion in aid from USAID since 1994
            US$ 4.5 Billion from 2014 – 2020
            OECD puts aid to Palestine at over US$ 40 Billion between 94 and 20
            UNRWA- Euro 1.6 Billion from Europe alone between 2000 and 2015
            Paris Conference aid 2008 – 2010 US$ 7.7 Billion
            Cairo Conference aid – 2014 US$ 5.4 Billion
            Australia had been donating A$ 10 Million per year from the 90’s up to 2018

            And thats just some of it.

            But people ignore the fact that Hamas leaders live in opulence in Tunisia and Qatar and use the donor money to fund their lavish lifestyle and finance their terrorist organisation buying arms etc to target Israel and the West – the very people that provide the vast majority of their funding

  • Louise Louise says:

    The current world situation is horrifically dire. People are being fooled into taking sides in these never-ending conflicts and wars. Yet most do not stop to think that taking the side of a specific group or country means supporting the death and destruction of the other side of the conflict. Those calling for peace are drowned out by those who have a vested interest in there NOT being peace.

    The history of the brutal occupation of Palestine is mired in tragedy and evil and those who find it easy to dismiss the Palestinians with a wave of the hand should rather think a bit more carefully about what the truth is.

    The awful reality of life is that there are global string-pullers who engineer wars, famine, conflicts and disasters simply because they are psychopaths and working on a global domination agenda. They do not care for anyone and have no interest in bringing peace to our world.

    I do believe that humanity is almost at a tipping point and that perhaps the biblical prophesies have some substance to them. For sure I would like to see all the evil-doers receive their judgement. Every single one of them.

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      Phew Louise, for someone calling for a substantiation of facts (which most here are usually ready to provide), you write:
      “The awful reality of life is that there are global string-pullers who engineer wars, famine, conflicts and disasters simply because they are psychopaths and working on a global domination agenda”.
      In your own words: “Before I start searching, can you perhaps please point me to where you found this information”???

  • Dov de Jong says:

    The narrative is always the same, the terrible Israeli’s and the poor Palestinians.
    The pictures are always the same lots of sad women, people carrying baby’s.
    You will however never see Hamas fighters training to kill baby’s in their cots which they did, because that would endanger the narrative. Nor will you see the primary school text books calling for the killing of Jews. The majority of Gazans voted for Hamas and what it stands for. If you truly want peace and not just mouth it, then you must stop the knee jerk reactions. The hospital murder by Islamic Jihad must be acknowledged for a start.

  • Alan Salmon says:

    My opinion of Imtiaz just went down a notch. He talks about war crimes by the Israelis, but seems to have forgotten the bloody slaughter meted out by Hamas on Israeli civilians, and the wholesale murder of other nationalities as well. The Palestinian people need to stop supporting radical extremists and murderers and release all hostages and I have no doubt things will improve rapidly.

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    The day has come that Sooliman has nailed his colours to the mast.

    A bit of context about the neighbourhood and Israel’s Jewish population. Please feel free to independently verify the following:

    On 15 May 1948 the State of Israel was formed. Fact (like it or not). The next day Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon (the Arab League) attacked. They were defeated. Fact (like it or not). Since that time Israel has unfortunately been attacked by one or more of these, and they have successfully fought them off and defeated them. Fact (like it or not). Israel has won vast land in many of these battles, and in almost all instances has returned it with assurances of an elusive peace, that has unfortunately never happened. Fact (like it or not).

    Prior to 1948 there were more than 900,000 Jews living peacefully in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years. As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.” Jews were uprooted from their countries of birth, fled and had their properties confiscated by the Arab states of their birth. Please check this fact independently. Today there are only about 5,000 Jews remaining in Arab lands.

    Never mind Jews arriving in Israel from Israel who had survived the Holocaust.

    Talk about being the size of the Kruger Park, exactly what Isreal is. Ever seen it on a map relative to the Arab world that surrounds it? There’s a whole hemisphere of places that palestinians could go if their brothers were so concerned about their welfare, where they could be “left in peace to go to their holy places” and enjoy all the human rights they are being denied in Israel now – like all the women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of any religion, public flogging, death penalty en-masse, etc.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Nikki Haley said it perfectly, the Arab states will not open their borders to Palestinians as they do not want terrorists in their countries. Why is everyone silent or blatantly ignores the fact that Gaza has a direct border with Egypt and even that is closed for Palestinians, not just since the start of this latest conflict but for the vast majority of the time

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