Stories that matter
- A ceasefire has been announced in Gaza - so, what now?
An update on the Gaza emergency, 25 May 2021
Since the launch of our Gaza Emergency appeal last week, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on May 21, bringing an end to 11 days of deadly airstrike attacks across Gaza.
While the break in violence has offered much needed relief for families who have been hiding in their homes, the severe damage inflicted on Gaza’s infrastructure and people has pushed its already dire humanitarian situation to the brink.
The latest escalation of violence - the most deadly Gaza has witnessed since the 2014 war - killed at least 248 people, including 66 children. Over 1,900 Gazans have been wounded including 610 children and 398 women. 12 people in Israel were also killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
Alongside the devastating human cost, Gaza’s public works and housing ministry have reported 769 housing and commercial units in Gaza as uninhabitable – leaving countless families and children now homeless without a safe roof over their heads. With nearly half of the city’s water network damaged in the attacks, the UN reports around 800,000 people have also been deprived of regular access to a clean water supply, posing serious issues for community health and safety.
While the bombings in Gaza have ceased for now, the city’s already strained healthcare system is now taking on the dual demands of the recent bombing injuries alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does it mean for our local partner and the communities they serve?
Our local partner, NECC, run three health clinics in Gaza’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods, primarily providing care to pregnant women, new mothers and children under the age of six. Their doors are also open to provide first-aid and other healthcare to anyone who needs it.
Needless to say, after the series of recent attacks, the demand for their services is greater than ever. In addition to the physical injury caused, the impact on mental health is immeasurable. Countless civilians – mothers, fathers and children - have witnessed horrifying violence and destruction, no doubt leaving profound psychological scarring, particularly on young children. For teenagers in Gaza, this is the fourth war they would have witnessed in their short lifetime (2008/09, 2012, 2014 and now 2021).
We have been in close contact with the team, and with the announcement of the ceasefire, conditions have been safe enough on the streets to reopen their clinics. Dr Issa, the Director of the organisation, notified us that the clinics were back in operation as of Monday, 24 May. In his latest message to us, he said:
We feel sorry for the lost innocent people, mothers and children, and hope for permanent just peace to prevail in this Holy land and for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in long lasting peace.
As the horrific reality of what has happened to their community sets in, the staff are doing all they can to provide their regular services – maternal health care, treatment of malnutrition and anaemia in children, and psychosocial support - along with looking after those who have been physically and mentally injured from the attacks.
Ways you can act right now
As the people of Gaza continue to grapple with the trauma they have just lived through, and the recovery challenges that lay ahead, there are many ways we, the Australian community, can continue to support them.
While the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is holding a lot of international attention, we must also give focus to the situation in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, which was the trigger point of the recent round of violence. The people of Sheikh Jarrah are being ordered to leave houses they have owned for over sixty years - homes that were built for them by the UN. The people of Sheikh Jarrah have been fighting a settler company and Israel’s discriminatory laws for years, and are the face of Israel's campaign to replace Palestinians with Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem.
UN human rights bodies, the EU, the UK, the US State Department and many human rights groups have called on Israel to stop any moves towards eviction. But Australia has been silent.
Will you stand with Sheikh Jarrah residents and call for Australia to speak up?
Sign the petition now
Our local partner, NECC, have asked us for urgent help to keep up with the demand on their health clinics as they grapple with injured people alongside their regular healthcare demand after the bombings. As well as supporting pregnant women and sick children, they’ll provide first-aid and medicine – while stocks last - to anyone who walks through their doors.