Israel’s decision, with Western backing, to cut off water, food and electricity to Gaza while it carpet bombs the entire besieged enclave is resulting in health disasters at every conceivable level.On Wednesday, Israel dropped incendiary flares, causing fires and smoke that contain extreme chemical toxins. Videos show Palestinians trying to extinguish the fires caused by these weapons.
The incendiary weapons have been dropped around hospitals and schools, which are full of displaced people seeking refuge.Journalists are posting photos of people trying to dig by hand through the rubble of apartment buildings through heavy smoke. The Electronic Intifada’s contributor Refaat Alareer posted on Tuesday that there is “almost no visibility due to the smoke and dust.” For those able to find shelter, disease is starting to rip through areas with high concentrations of people.
“According to healthcare professionals providing support to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the [UNRWA] schools, epidemics are spreading fast due to the lack of clean water, medicine, and hygiene products,” reports Maha Hussaini in Middle East Eye.The lack of clean water, used by Israel as a weapon against Palestinians, is leading many to ration as much as possible.
“Today, we are dividing the water into two small cups for the adults among us,” Twitter user @NourGaza posted on Wednesday.“When thirst is severe, we can just wet our lips. Children have a larger share,” she wrote.
Nour’s sister Huda al-Sousi, a contributor to The Electronic Intifada, was killed during the first week of Israel’s attacks.In another post, Nour says that people are hoping for rain to quench their thirst, but the rain will cause distress for “those who have no real shelter.” With flour and other staples in scarce supply, Israel has also bombed bakeries while many people stood in line. While people in Gaza are scrambling to locate essential medications for those who have been forced to flee to other locations in the Gaza Strip, some women are taking hormonal medications to delay their menstruation because of the lack of proper sanitation and supplies. For women who are pregnant, essential prenatal appointments and hospital births remain barely possible. Human Rights Watch reports that “the grave risks all civilians in Gaza face from the Israeli military operations are multiplied for people with disabilities.” And hospitals – 16 of which have already been shuttered due to being bombed, and/or a lack of fuel, supplies, electricity and clean water – are bracing for a compounded catastrophe when the fuel finally runs out.