Skip to content

Israeli Assault, Lack of Medical and Other Necessities, Increase Palestinian Disease Deaths

Gaza Strip. Farah Baker @Farah Gazan X page

The incessant Israeli military pounding of civilians, combined with the lack of medical and other necessities of life, is increasing disease deaths of Palestinians driven to the south of the Gaza Strip.

“The perfect storm for disease has begun. Now it’s about, ‘How bad will it get?’” stated James Elder, chief spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The horrific conditions continue to emerge:

• In Gaza, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 10, the cases of diarrhea in children under five years of age, jumped by 66% from 36,080 to 59,895, while for deaths among the rest of the population rose by 55% reported the World Health Organization. Diarrhea kills by depleting bodily fluids. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), globally “about 88% of diarrhea-associated deaths are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene.”

• Dr. Ahmed Al-Farra, the head of the pediatric ward at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis reported that he was aware of 15 to 30 cases of hepatitis A in the city in the past two weeks: “The incubation period of the virus is three weeks to a month, so after a month there will be an explosion in the number of cases,” he said.

• Nearly 85% of Gazans have been forced from their homes, and the World Health Organization reported, “about 1.3 million people live in shelters, where there’s an average of 1 toilet for every 220 people and 1 shower for every 4,500.”

• Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who is in Cairo working on the UN response, told Reuters that the UN plans to start documenting the levels of acute malnutrition among children in Gaza by measuring their mid-upper arm circumferences, known as a MUAC test. “When you have acute malnutrition, which is called wasting, people … die from that, but then they are also so much more vulnerable to other diseases,” stated Spiegel.

• The UN is tracking 14 diseases with “epidemic potential,” with the Gaza Health Ministry and individual physicians reporting that diarrhea, staph infections, chickenpox, urinary tract infections, meningitis, mumps, scabies, and measles are all rising.

• Dr. Ahmed Al-Farra, Nasser Hospital pediatric department in Khan Younis, said that “children are (drinking) water that is unfit for human consumption. There’s no fruit, no vegetables, so children have a deficiency in vitamins, in addition to … anemia from malnutrition.” Doctors and aid workers also assert that babies are going hungry from the lack of clean water to mix with infant formula.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported that since Oct. 7, there have been 18,700 Gazans killed, and more than 50,000 wounded. The percentage of deaths from failing health are also rising, and could soon grow exponentially.