The Gaza conflict is causing overcrowding in the southern regions as a result of increased bombing and displacement.
The Israeli military attacked both northern and southern areas of the enclave, while also advancing into central regions. Palestinian armed groups retaliated by launching rockets into Israel, causing concern for the safety of civilians who have been repeatedly displaced. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, expressed these concerns.
The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Tom White, stated on X (previously known as Twitter) that the Rafah governorate in the southern Gaza Strip is currently overcrowded. In a video posted on Tuesday, a line of cars with mattresses and other belongings tied down could be seen slowly moving forward, bumper to bumper.
According to the most recent report from the UN’s aid coordination office, OCHA, Israeli forces have allegedly conducted intense airstrikes, ground attacks, and naval bombardment “across a significant portion of the Gaza Strip, particularly in the Middle Area” between December 23rd and 26th.
Between December 24th and 25th, there were a reported “50 or more strikes” on three refugee camps – Al Bureij, An Nuseirat, and Al Maghazi. These attacks resulted in the deaths of multiple individuals and also created obstacles for aid teams, who had to deal with damaged roads connecting the camps.
It has been over 80 days since the Israeli Defense Forces initiated their bombing of the Gaza Strip in retaliation for terror attacks by Hamas in southern Israel. These attacks resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 individuals and the capture of approximately 240 others.
According to the local health agency, 20,915 Palestinians have lost their lives in the enclave since October 7th. This includes 858 fatalities between last Saturday and Tuesday. It is estimated that 70% of those killed were women and children. Numerous individuals are unaccounted for, likely trapped beneath the debris. Rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing.
According to OCHA, there were 164 Israeli soldiers who lost their lives and 874 who were injured during the ground operations in Gaza.
Renewed health fears
The Israeli Defense Forces have issued a new evacuation order that affects residents living in the middle area of Gaza. UNRWA Director of Communications, Juliette Touma, also issued a warning about the dire conditions facing people seeking shelter in tented camps in the southern region.
Ms. Touma expressed concerns about the spread of disease due to the lack of basic necessities such as water, sanitation, and food, citing an overcrowded ratio of 400 people to one toilet.
UN humanitarians have already described how hungry Gazans have stopped aid trucks en route to their destination to offload food, amid repeated warnings that it is becoming impossible to meet the needs of all those in the south, where population density is estimated at 12,000 people per square kilometre (about 7.5 miles).