At SAMS, we are deeply concerned by the dramatic escalation of violence and the significant loss of civilian life in the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Unfortunately, between October 7th and December 5th, at least 18,377 civilians have been killed, 51,400 civilians have been injured, and more than 2 million people have been forcibly displaced.
In the midst of the ongoing conflict, families and children are suffering -- they are coping with unfathomable anguish and trauma, including the sudden and violent death of loved ones, the imminent threat of death, injury, disability, displacement, and the deprivation of the elements needed to sustain life.
More than 2.3 million civilians in besieged Gaza, including 1 million children, are being subjected to relentless air strikes and artillery attacks, forced displacement, and the complete or partial blockade of humanitarian aid, including food, safe water, fuel, electricity, medicine, and other life-sustaining support. Sixty-two days of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have taken a devastating toll on human life. According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between October 7th and December 7th, at least 17,177 people have been killed in Gaza, 70% of whom are women and children. . Many more people are missing - most presumed to be trapped under the ruins of residential buildings and rescuers unable to locate survivors, due to the severe shortage of fuel to run vehicles and equipment. It is estimated that at least 50% of Gaza's housing units have been destroyed or damaged, and in an area with such a high population density, some officials estimate that thousands more civilians may be buried under the rubble. Significant damage has been inflicted upon critical civilian infrastructure, including water, sanitation and other essential services, affecting people's ability to maintain their dignity and basic living standards.According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), approximately 1.9 million people in Gaza or 85% of the population - has been forced to flee their homes, since October 7th. Many families have been displaced multiple times. Due to the ongoing escalation, mass displacement, and restricted access to aid, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating at an alarming rate.
As of 6 December, almost 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were sheltering in 151 UNRWA installations across all five governorates of the Gaza Strip, including in the North and Gaza City. More than 1 million IDPs were sheltering in 94 facilities in the Middle, Khan Younis and Rafah areas.On average, every toilet is shared by 160 people, and every shower unit by 700 people.
The authorities informed UNRWA that they would allow the entry into Gaza of a daily amount of 120,000 litres of fuel every two days, which is only 50 percent of the amount needed to support humanitarian operations, including food distribution, and the operation of generators at hospitals and sanitation facilities. Delivery of aid into Gaza has been wholly inadequate, with relief agencies describing that hundreds of trucks carrying aid and fuel are needed every day, and that more than one entry point should be operated and distribution should be allowed to reach every place where people are sheltering.
Per OCHA reports, between October 21st and November 23rd at 18:00, at least 1,723 truckloads of humanitarian supplies (excluding fuel) entered Gaza through the Egyptian border, compared with a monthly average of nearly 10,000 truckloads of commercial and humanitarian commodities (excluding fuel) entering Gaza before October 7th. More than nine weeks into the conflict, food systems are collapsing in Gaza. Markets are running out of food items, and the final bakery contracted by the World Food Program (WFP) has ceased operations due to the lack of fuel and cooking gas. Since the hostilities began, only 10 percent of the required food supplies have entered Gaza. Gaza faces a massive food gap and widespread hunger as nearly the entire population is in desperate need of food assistance. The WFP has reported an increase in cases of dehydration and malnutrition and warned about the threat of starvation due to the collapsed food supply chain and insufficient aid delivery. People are resorting to skipping or reducing meals and consuming raw onion and uncooked eggplant.The healthcare situation is beyond catastrophic. According to OCHA, approximately 46,000 civilians in Gaza have been injured between October 7th and December 7th. Heroic medical personnel are working around the clock to treat a steady influx of injured civilians, despite critical shortages of emergency power/fuel, water, medicine, medical supplies, and healthcare workers.
Currently, only 14 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are functional and able to admit new patients, and even in these facilities services are limited. Only two of these hospitals are in the north. The two major hospitals in southern Gaza are operating three times above their bed capacity, facing critical shortages of basic supplies and fuel. According to MoH in Gaza, the occupancy rates reaching 206 per cent in inpatient departments and 250 per cent in intensive care units. Additionally, these hospitals are providing shelter to thousands of IDPs.
As of December 7th, WHO has documented 212 attacks on health care in the Gaza Strip affecting 56 health care facilities (including 24 hospitals damaged) and 59 ambulances.
At hospitals and healthcare facilities, there are shortages of anesthesia, antibiotics, saline, pain medications, insulin, blood products, and the fuel/electricity to run ventilators, incubators, monitors, and anesthesia machines. Hospitals in Gaza that are still operational are working well beyond capacity and struggling to sustain critical life-saving functions, perform surgeries, operate intensive care units (ICUs), ventilators, dialysis machines, and incubators, placing thousands of patient lives at risk. Without fuel to power the hospitals' emergency generators, patients on ventilators, in the ICU, including infants and the elderly, could die within minutes of the power being completely cut.
Gaza is also facing the risk of an outbreak of deadly infectious diseases like cholera, because water and sanitation services have broken down, and supplies of clean potable water are dwindling for its population of 2.3 million people. On November 8th, the WHO warned that the rapid spread of infectious diseases and bacterial infections due to the water shortage and related consumption of contaminated water. Since mid-October, over 44,202 cases of diarrhea have been reported, mostly among children under five; by contrast, the monthly average of diarrhea cases in the latter group in 2021 and 2022 stood at 2,000. In addition, the WHO reported at least 71,224 cases of acute respiratory infections. In the wake of this humanitarian crisis, SAMS is partnering with the Palestinian American Medical Association (PAMA), the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF), and other NGOs to address the urgent medical and humanitarian needs of civilians, including children, women, the elderly, the displaced, people with injuries or disabilities, pregnant women, and patients currently in hospital. On October 12, 2023, SAMS began delivering urgently needed medical supplies to PAMA for distribution to hospitals/healthcare facilities in Gaza, helping to fill critical shortages and save lives. SAMS will also be working with partners to deliver critical medical services to civilians in Gaza.
We ask for you to join our relief efforts. Please help us provide life-saving medical and humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, including women, children, the elderly, and other innocent people who continue to endure unspeakable suffering. Your tax-deductible donation will bring relief and dignity to families and children in Gaza who are facing an unimaginable tragedy. Thank you for your generous support.
Please mail your donation to:
Syrian American Medical Society Foundation
PO Box 34115
Washington, DC 20043
*Please include the purpose of your gift.
To donate via a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), such as Fidelity Charitable, please contact your DAF administrator directly and request that your gift be made to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation, Tax ID 16-1717058, and include the purpose of your gift. Thank you!