10 things you should know about the humanitarian situation in Gaza

On 7 October, the Palestinian armed group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking scores of hostages. In response, Israel has declared war on Hamas, and launched the bloodiest offensive against Gaza for years, killing thousands of civilians and destroying residential buildings and public facilities.


What is the current situation in Gaza?

Last updated 7 November 2023

1. Civilians are being killed

Nearly one month of relentless bombardments have brought the death toll in the Gaza Strip to 10,022, including at least 4,104 children. 2,350 people are reported missing and may be trapped under the rubble, including 1,300 children. Women and children account for 67 percent of reported
fatalities. 25,408 people are reported injured.

2. Mass destruction of homes

262,000 housing units, or 43 percent of all ihousing units in the Gaza Strip, have been either destroyed or damaged since the start of the hostilities. 

3. Schools, hospitals and mosques are being bombed

Over 51 percent of Gaza’s education facilities have been hit and 625,000 students have no access to education. 

  • 267 education facilities reportedly damaged
  • 113 health facilities attacked
  • 11 bakeries reportedly destroyed
  • 16 hospitals and 32 health care center out of service
  • At least 3 churches and 56 mosques

4. Fuel, food and water are running out

Lack of fuel has led to full electricity blackout. The only operative mill cannot
transform wheat due to elctrecity outages and many bakeries have either been bombed or have been forced to shut down due to the lack of fuel. People are waiting 4-6 hours to receive half of normal bread portion, and there is not enough water to go around. 

5. Increased risk of disease

People are being forced to consume water from unsafe sources. Dehydration and waterborne diseases are becoming increasingly likely, and medicine is in short supply. There are already reports of cases of chicken pox, scabies and diarrhoea due to poor sanitation conditions and the consumption of unsafe water.

6. Civilians in fear and panic

They have had no voice in the hostilities, and have no safe place to go to. The endless cycle of violence has affected children’s mental health and wellbeing.

7. Half the population told to leave their homes

On 13 October, the Israeli army ordered more than 1 million people – half the population – to leave northern Gaza within 24 hours, in advance of an imminent military ground operation. This amounts to forcible transfer and is illegal under international law – and impossible to implement safely.

8. 1.5 million are displaced

The number of people who have fled their homes in Gaza is estimated at about 1,5 million, or 62 percent of the total population in the Gaza Strip. Of them, some 717,000 are sheltering in 149 UNRWA facilities

9. Nowhere is safe in Gaza

Despite telling Palestinians they would be safer in the south, Israel has continued to attack areas with a high civilian presence like Khan Younis and Rafah.

10. Israel’s siege on Gaza continues

The Rafah crossing has opened to allow some aid in, but the number of trucks is nowhere near what is needed. Gaza needs at least 100 aid trucks every day. Fuel has also been excluded from the list of items entering Gaza. 526 trucks with humanitarian aid entered Gaza since 21 October. 

Source: UNOCHA

How is NRC responding?

Our teams in Gaza are currently delivering emergency cash assistance for people to purchase their essential needs. We are closely monitoring the security situation and stand ready to provide additional help, including:

  • shelter
  • psychological first aid for children
  • water, hygiene and sanitation supplies

Our teams, like the rest of the population in Gaza, have suffered loss, destruction and displacement. Several of our colleagues have relocated with their families. We are prioritising our teams’ wellbeing and are in constant contact with them to ensure that they are safe.

What are we asking for?

  • Stop all hostilities. All parties to the conflict must stop the widespread civilian bloodshed and destruction of infrastructure. Humanitarian pauses are needed to allow aid in and lay the conditions for a lasting ceasefire.
  • End the siege on Gaza. Water, food and medicine are running out. Israel has collectively punished the people of Gaza by cutting all of life’s essentials. A disaster is unfolding with Gaza’s population being deliberately starved. Dehydration and waterborne diseases are a possibility as children have to drink contaminated water.
  • Protect civilians. Airstrikes have continued across Gaza, including on southern Gaza where residents have been told to flee by Israel. Densely populated areas like Khan Younis and Rafah have been bombed repeatedly.
  • Release all hostages. Hundreds of Israeli civilians have been taken hostage by armed groups in Gaza. They have no say over the events and should be released without conditions.
  • Adhere to international law. The international community must push for the respect of international humanitarian law, particularly civilian protection, in this conflict.
  • Keep Rafah crossing open. Increasing the amount life-saving aid into Gaza will be vital to alleviate the suffering of Gaza’s people. Israel must not use people’s very survival as a bargaining chip. Humanitarian corridors must be introduced.