The UN humanitarian office has revealed that more than 400,000 Palestinians have been internally displaced in the Gaza Strip as a result of a massive Israeli air campaign. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a statement on Saturday, expressing concerns over the deteriorating situation in the region.
“Most people have no access to clean drinking water after supply through the water network and the operation of water desalination/purification plants came to a halt,” the OCHA statement noted.
“As a last resort, people are consuming brackish water from agricultural wells, triggering serious concerns about the spread of waterborne diseases,” it added.
The Israeli military had issued a warning to 1.1 million residents in northern Gaza, urging them to evacuate within 24 hours and move south. Tens of thousands of residents are estimated to have followed the order, but the UN warned that such a mass evacuation would have “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
“It would be impossible for Palestinians in Gaza to obey the order to leave the north without devastating humanitarian consequences,” the UN emphasized.
The ongoing conflict between Israeli forces and the Gaza Strip was sparked by a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israel-controlled territories. The conflict, which began last Saturday, saw Hamas initiate “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” a multi-pronged surprise attack involving rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.
Hamas stated that this operation was a response to the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and the growing violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
In retaliation, the Israeli military launched “Operation Swords of Iron” against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip. This response included the cutting of water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further exacerbating the living conditions in an area that has been under a crippling siege since 2007.
The conflict has taken a heavy toll, with over 3,300 people killed since its outbreak. Among the casualties are 1,900 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis, underscoring the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis and seeking a peaceful resolution to the ongoing hostilities.