The Gaza Strip has found itself at the center of a devastating conflict, with heavy bombardments and a worsening humanitarian situation. This crisis was triggered by a terror attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7th, to which Israel responded with retaliatory airstrikes.
The Gaza Strip is a small, densely populated piece of land situated between Israel and Egypt, along the Mediterranean Sea. It is home to approximately 2.3 million Palestinians, making it one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. With an area of just 140 square miles, it is roughly equivalent in size to the city of Philadelphia.
For over a decade, the Gaza Strip has been under a comprehensive blockade imposed by Israel, which encompasses control over the territory’s air, land, and sea borders. This blockade is justified by Israel as a security measure to safeguard against attacks by Hamas. As a result, Gaza is encircled by concrete walls and barbed wire fences, and Palestinians face significant restrictions on entering or leaving the region. This policy has been widely criticized by human rights groups, which describe Gaza as the “world’s largest open-air prison.”
The economic conditions in Gaza have deteriorated significantly de to these stringent restrictions. The unemployment rate in the region stands at over 40%, and a substantial 63% of the population faces food insecurity, with inadequate access to affordable, nutritious food. Approximately 80% of Gaza’s residents depend on international aid for their basic needs.
The recent escalation of violence has exacerbated the suffering in Gaza. In response to the October 7th attack by Hamas, Israel implemented a total siege on the territory, disrupting the supply of essential resources, including food, water, and electricity, which Gaza heavily relies on. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has raised concerns about the dwindling fresh water supply, while Gaza’s sole power plant ran out of fuel last week. The World Health Organization has also sounded the alarm, warning that Gaza’s health system is on the verge of collapse, with hospitals receiving only a few hours of electricity daily.
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, has expressed grave concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation, emphasizing that the situation has reached depths previously unseen.
The historical context of this crisis lies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the division of Palestinian territories. In 1947, the United Nations proposed a “Partition Plan for Palestine,” aiming to create both an Arab state and a Jewish state in the region. This plan was met with resistance from the local Palestinian Arab population and surrounding Arab states, setting the stage for decades of conflict and turmoil.
As the world observes the dire situation in the Gaza Strip, international efforts to address the humanitarian crisis and seek a lasting resolution to the ongoing conflict are more critical than ever. The suffering of Gaza’s population continues to be a global concern that demands urgent attention and action.