HI has released on 6 December a new report, “Blast Impacts: Looking into the Consequences of Explosive Weapons in Gaza”, which sheds the light on the devastating and long-term impact of more than 50 days of bombing and shelling in Gaza on the civilian populations. HI is calling for an immediate and long-lasting ceasefire.
Since October 7 and the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, more than 15,000 people were killed and more than 36,000 were injured in Gaza by continuous bombing by Israeli forces. Israel’s retaliatory response come after a massive attack launched by Hamas on October 7, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking hostage 240 Israelis and foreign nationals.
* Most of figures run until November 30 which was the last day of the 7-day ceasefire in Gaza.
More than 12,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza since the start of hostilities.
With a surface area of 365 km², the Gaza Strip is about the size of a metropolis like Toulon in France, a little more than twice the size of the Brussels-Capital region in Belgium, or half the size of Madrid. With 2 million inhabitants, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The bombs dropped on Gaza varied in size from 150 kg to 1000 kg and in power.
This campaign of bombing and shelling on such densely populated area have been devastating for the civilians: almost 15,000 people were killed and 36,000 injured. And many of the injured will need medical and rehabilitation services that are no longer available as medical infrastructure have been destroyed.
Some experts characterize this as the most prolonged and intense bombing campaign in history targeting a populated area. (Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel | Flash Update #30 | United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - occupied Palestinian territory - ochaopt.org)
"The destruction or damage to critical infrastructure, such as hospitals or schools, have a long-lasting impact as these essential services as they will no longer be unavailable for a long period even after violence ends. In addition, bombing and shelling leave areas heavily contaminated with explosive devices, as a variable percentage of these bombs, missiles, etc., fail to function as intended and can be hazardous. Remnants of exploded bombs can also remain dangerous for days, weeks, or even years. This contamination, often found in rubble, necessitates long and complex clearance operations to ensure that people can safely return to their homes or rebuild affected buildings," says Danila Zizi, HI Country Director for Occupied Palestinian Territories.
26 hospitals and 52 healthcare centres in Gaza are out of service, with 55 ambulances damaged.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also notes that, since October 7th, there have been 164 attacks on healthcare in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, 198 Palestinian medical staff, 12 members of the Palestinian Civil Defense, and 103 UNRWA staff have been killed since October 7th.
The water supply system has been significantly damaged or rendered unusable. It has grave impact on the hygiene and sanitary condition of the population. Without access to clean water, people are forced to use contaminated water sources, leading to the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.
On November 4th and 5th, seven water desalination facilities across the Gaza Strip were directly hit and sustained major damage, including three sewage pipelines in Gaza City, two water reservoirs (in Gaza City, Rafah, and Jabalia refugee camp), and two water wells in Rafah. As it is winter in Gaza and heavy rainfall is not uncommon, the Gaza municipality warned about the imminent risk of sewage flooding.
A recent UN report on Gaza states that there has been a 92% drop in water consumption from pre-conflict levels, even though the water supply to Gaza’s network has been catastrophic since before October 7th.
"Many people injured by bombing and shelling experience fractures, requiring urgent orthopedic care to prevent irreversible complications such as pain, muscle contractions, and deformities. Additionally, many undergo amputations, underscoring the need for prompt emergency and surgical care to potentially prevent such drastic measures. Peripheral nerve damage and spinal cord injuries are also common among those injured by bombing. All these individuals will face lifelong challenges, including pain, stiffness, and psychological trauma. Many will contend with permanent or temporary physical disabilities. The lack of access to healthcare and humanitarian services exacerbates these issues,” explains Florence Daunis, International Operations Director.
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as of November 18th, at least 45% of Gaza’s housing units are destroyed or damaged.
Twenty wash facilities have been affected, and at least three churches and 77 mosques have been damaged due to bombing and shelling. Explosive weapons have caused the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure, including 10,000 buildings destroyed, more than 43,000 residential buildings, and over 225,000 partially damaged housing units.
Additionally, 11 bakeries are reported to have been destroyed, and 300 education facilities have reportedly sustained damage, while 113 health facilities have been attacked.
HI is calling on all parties to the conflict to stop the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas such as Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. HI is also supporting #CeasefireNow, an open call for an long-lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and further loss of innocent lives and ensure humanitarian aid can be delivered rapidly and safely.