After weeks of confrontation in Jerusalem, hostilities between armed groups in Gaza and Israeli forces erupted on 10 May with Israeli and Palestinian armed forces launching air strikes into Gaza and Jerusalem, respectively.

Tensions in East Jerusalem had been building in the weeks leading up to the current violence. Since 28 April there have been daily protests against the imminent eviction of Palestinian refugee families from Jerusalem. Since the escalation, thousands of Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes in Gaza for shelter and have limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services due to Israeli air strikes. Meanwhile, Israeli civilians live in fear of rockets launched from Gaza. 

The Gaza Ministry of Health has reported over 200 deaths and over 1,000 injuries. The death toll is expected to rise as the rubble from air strikes is cleared and the conflict continues. During the same period, the Israeli authorities reported seven people killed as a result of rockets from Gaza. The World Health Organization (WHO) is estimating as the conflict continues, trauma medicines and supplies will be required for 10,000 injured people.

Severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods imposed on the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT) make the delivery of essential healthcare challenging. This has been exacerbated by COVID regulations and, since 11 May, two major Gaza crossings have been closed until further notice. Access to clean water for hundreds of thousands of people is also limited due to non-operational, damaged or destroyed water and sanitation systems.

Essential infrastructure including roads leading to hospitals have been damaged and one clinic has been completely destroyed in the latest violence. Additionally, six hospitals and three clinics have been partially damaged.

The escalation of violence coincides with the oPT experiencing a third peak of COVID-19 infections. OPT has recorded over 3,800 new cases of COVID-19, of which 2,725 were recorded in Gaza. Given inadequate equipment, chronic drug shortages, and the COVID-19 pandemic, health services are likely to be overwhelmed.

Even before the latest spike in the conflict, In February 2021, UN OCHA identified that over 2.45 million Palestinians were in need of humanitarian assistance. This represents nearly half the population. In April 2021, The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported there was zero stock (meaning less than one month’s supply) of 256 out of 516 essential medicines listed in the Central Drug Store. As supplies dwindle, people requiring treatment are required to purchase medicines privately or go without, suffering the health consequences. Given inadequate equipment, chronic drug shortages, and the pandemic, health services are likely to be overwhelmed as the conflict continues.

 

Our response:
Initially we will send two shipments of mental health medication, one to Gaza and one to the West Bank, followed by a shipment of wide-ranging basic healthcare medicines including antibiotics and vital supplies of chronic health medicines for conditions that, if left untreated, could lead to disablement or even death.

 

We are working closely with our in-country partner and local medics to identify the specific medical needs of communities and will continue to monitor the situation closely to respond and provide critically needed medical supplies.

 

 

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