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Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds in Gaza as WHO Warns of Looming Disease Threat Amidst Ongoing Conflict

World Health Organization Expresses Alarming Concerns Over Health Infrastructure Breakdown in Gaza

As the Israel-Hamas conflict persists, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a stark warning, asserting that disease and a crumbling health infrastructure pose a more significant threat to lives in Gaza than airstrikes and missiles.

Key Points:

  1. Lethal Impact of Disease: WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris emphasized the potential for more casualties from diseases if urgent measures are not taken to restore the beleaguered health system in Gaza. The breakdown of essential services, including access to food, water, medicines, and fuel for hospitals, is exacerbating the risk of a health crisis.
  2. Indirect Health Impacts of Conflict: Dr. Barry Levy, an adjunct professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, highlighted the historical trend in wars, where the indirect health consequences often surpass the direct effects of armed conflict. Destruction of civilian infrastructure, which provides crucial resources like food, water, shelter, and healthcare, along with forced displacement, contributes significantly to the humanitarian crisis.
  3. Diseases on the Rise: Indirect health impacts include the surge of infectious diseases such as cholera due to reduced access to safe water. Contagious respiratory disorders like measles, tuberculosis, and Covid-19 are also on the rise, partly attributed to crowded living conditions. The reduction in public health services, including immunizations and disease outbreak control, coupled with increased malnutrition, further compounds the risk of infectious diseases.

International Call for Action:

The dire situation in Gaza has prompted calls from the international community for urgent humanitarian intervention. Addressing the immediate health needs of the population and rebuilding the shattered health infrastructure are seen as crucial steps to mitigate the looming crisis. As the conflict continues, the focus on safeguarding the well-being of civilians becomes increasingly imperative.

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Despite Deep Divisions, Israelis Unite in the Face of Ongoing Conflict

Israelis, deeply divided over political issues in recent years, have set aside their differences and are coming together as the nation grapples with an ongoing conflict. The Israeli government’s controversial plans to weaken the country’s judiciary had created a political deadlock, leading to widespread protests. One of the prominent figures leading these protests, Professor Michal Muszkat-Barkan of the Hebrew Union College, had been advocating for democratic values and opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans.

However, the emergence of a new threat shifted the nation’s focus. Following a deadly attack by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip, the nation has united in its response to the conflict. As the death toll continues to rise on both sides, Israel is faced with a pressing need to confront the situation. Israel formally declared war on Hamas and commenced a campaign of airstrikes and bombardments on the Gaza Strip, further escalating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region.

In response to the crisis, initiatives like the Jerusalem Emergency Command have formed, comprising hundreds of volunteers from various civil society organizations. These volunteers are working tirelessly to assist impacted individuals, including evacuees and soldiers. Israel has called up 300,000 reservists, one of the largest mobilizations in the country’s history, and many are in need of essential supplies.

The city of Ashkelon, located near Gaza, is experiencing heightened tension as residents brace themselves for a potential escalation. Stores and restaurants are closed, and air raid sirens frequently send people scrambling for safety. Panic buying has caused a nationwide shortage of essential supplies, including bottled water, prompting the Israel Home Front Command to recommend keeping at least three days’ worth of necessities at home.

The Ashkelon Barzilai Medical Center, which has been receiving casualties from the attacks, is on high alert. Volunteers are offering support to the hospital staff, while the maternity department has been relocated to a safer location. Meanwhile, across Israel, there are discussions about the possibility of a ground incursion into Gaza, with some believing it to be necessary for defeating Hamas.

Not all Israelis, however, are in favor of a ground operation. Some advocate for prisoner exchanges and peaceful solutions, calling for calm and warning against escalation. While divisions persist, there is a collective commitment to ensuring the safety of communities and citizens amid the ongoing conflict.

Despite differing political views, individuals in Israel have come together to provide aid, support, and assistance to those affected by the crisis. Mental health resources, volunteer psychologists, and therapists are being coordinated to provide assistance to communities in need.

As Israel confronts the challenges posed by the conflict, the nation stands united in its commitment to protect its citizens and ensure the safety of its soldiers, putting aside political differences for the time being.