Gaza humanitarian crisis “absolutely unprecedented and staggering” – Day 72

Gaza humanitarian crisis “absolutely unprecedented and staggering” – Day 72

Palestinian journalists under fire; Archbishop of Westminster weighs in on “cold-blooded killing” of Catholic women in Gaza; Gaza detainees’ situation looks dire; Gaza hospitals struggling; starvation as a “weapon”; environmental disaster; declaration on genocide

Number of Gazans killed since the Biden administration vetoed UNSC ceasefire resolution: at least 1,969 (approximately 788 children)

Gaza humanitarian crisis ‘unprecedented and staggering’: Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, says he hasn’t seen anything of this scale of disaster before.

“Everything is absolutely unprecedented and staggering,” Lazzarini told diplomatic correspondent James Bays. “In 40 days, more women and children were killed than the number of civilians in the Ukraine war.”

The UNRWA head went on to say the level of destruction resulted in more than 60 percent of infrastructure being destroyed, and more than 90 percent of the population displaced.

Top news from Gaza

Palestinians’ message to the world: ‘Stop sleeping and get up’: Al Jazeera’s Anas al-Sharif spoke to people in Gaza seeking shelter and treatment at a medical center in Jabalia al-Balad. Many of them are women and children. “They are targeting innocent children,” one person said, carrying his son in his arms. “We are hosting poor, helpless and displaced people who can’t find a place at the schools. Israeli forces have targeted all of us inside our house.”

Another Palestinian accused Israeli forces of committing “genocide”. “Our message to the world is that enough is enough … stop sleeping and get up. Don’t you feel that we are part of humanity?” he said.

A medical professional at the hospital said the healthcare system in northern Gaza has collapsed and called for an “immediate ceasefire”. “The medical teams are exhausted. The situation is catastrophic. We are facing a genocide.”

Hundreds of hostages taken from Gaza, held blindfolded and handcuffed at Israeli base (Ha’aretz):

Hundreds of Palestinians who were arrested in Gaza during the current war on suspicion of involvement in terrorism have been held for weeks at a detention facility in Israel’s south, where several of them have died, Haaretz has learned. The circumstances of the deaths are not yet clear…

The detainees are blindfolded and handcuffed for most of the day, and the lights are on at the facility throughout the night. The handcuffs permit them limited movement and allow them to eat.

At least 90 Gazans killed in latest Israeli attacks on Jabalia refugee camp: At least 90 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the latest Israeli attacks on the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Pregnant women and their unborn children in Gaza are among those in danger from Israel’s bombardment and siege. Thousands of expectant mothers have no medical care and don’t know where they will give birth.
Pregnant women and their unborn children in Gaza are among those in danger from Israel’s bombardment and siege. Thousands of expectant mothers have no medical care and don’t know where they will give birth. (photo)

UN: Pregnant and breastfeeding women face risk of death: About 45,000 pregnant women and 68,000 breastfeeding women in the Gaza Strip face risks in the war. In a post on X, the United Nations Population Fund said pregnant and lactating women are facing “severe food shortages” because of Israel’s siege and attacks.

“The severe food shortage in Gaza exposes pregnant and breastfeeding women to the risk of anaemia, preeclampsia, bleeding, and even death,” the post said.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem received this photo from the attack on the Holy Family Church in Gaza.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem received this photo from the attack on the Holy Family Church in Gaza. (social media)

Archbishop of Westminster condemns ‘cold–blooded’ killing of two women in Gaza church: The shooting of a mother and daughter allegedly by an Israeli military sniper in a church compound in Gaza City was a “cold–blooded killing”, the most senior Catholic cleric in England has said.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, said the shooting did “nothing to further Israel’s right to defend itself”.

The two women were killed inside the Holy Family parish in Gaza City on Saturday, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Seven other people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. No warning was given, no notification was provided.

Most of Gaza’s Christian families have taken refuge in the compound since the start of the war.

“They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the parish, where there are no belligerents.”

More attacks on Palestinian journalists

Haneen Ali al-Qutshan and Abdullah Alwan, Gazan journalists
Haneen Ali al-Qutshan and Abdullah Alwan, Gazan journalists (photo)

Female journalist killed in Nuseirat refugee camp: Haneen Ali al-Qutshan was the 95th Palestinian journalist or media worker killed since the October 7 conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out. She worked for an FM radio station in Gaza. She was among the 25 people killed in the latest Israeli air attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. An undetermined number of her family members were also killed.

According to the Coalition for Women in Journalism, al-Qutshan was the 12th female journalist to be killed since October 7th.

Al Jazeera employee killed in Israeli attack on his home: Abdullah Alwan, an audio commentator on the Midan page of Al Jazeera’s Arabic website, has been killed after an Israeli air attack targeted his family’s home in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip. Alwan’s distinctive voice garnered him a large following over the years.

Journalist who reported on dead Gaza babies shot by suspected Israeli sniper: The journalist who reported on decomposing bodies of babies abandoned in a Gaza hospital says he believes he was shot by an Israeli sniper. Mohammed Balousha – who was wearing a helmet and press badge told the Washington Post he was filming near his home in Jabaliya, in northern Gaza, when he was shot in the leg. Israeli’s military didn’t respond to the Post’s request for comment.

Working for the UAE-owned Al Mashhad channel, Balousha reported last month on the decomposed bodies of four babies left behind at Nasser Hospital after Israel troops forced medical staff to evacuate.

West Bank journalist shot: A photojournalist was shot and injured on Monday by Israeli occupation army during its raid of the village of Jaffna, north of Ramallah.

Dozens of journalists detained: The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that the Israeli occupation forces have detained 46 journalists since October 7th. The PPS added in a press statement on Monday that the occupation forces are still holding 32 journalists, including 19 who were taken to administrative detention (held without charge, trial, or access to lawyers). Read about their conditions here.

West Bank news

Israeli forces kill 4 in West Bank refugee camp: Four Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli army gunfire in Faraa refugee camp, south of the city of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, according to the Ministry of Health. One was shot in the chest, the rest in the head.

Soldiers raided the camp provoking confrontations with the residents, said sources, during which the soldiers opened live fire at the youths.

505 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in West Bank this year: At least 505 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank this year, the Health Ministry said Sunday, Anadolu Agency reports. A ministry statement said that 111 children were among the victims. Last year, the Palestinian death toll from Israeli army fire reached 224 people, according to Palestinian figures.

Close to 300 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7.

RECOMMENDED READING: Israeli War Crimes Belong to Biden and US Congress Too

Israel news

Israeli far-right minister vows to continue distributing weapons to illegal Israeli settlers: National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir says he will continue his controversial campaign of weapons distribution as long as he is in power. “As long as I am on duty, I will continue to distribute as many weapons as possible to the eligible. No political campaign will deter me,” Ben-Gvir said on X.

Ben-Gvir has also threatened to leave the governing coalition if the war on Gaza doesn’t “continue at full strength”.

The building of settlements is a violation of international law.

‘Nothing will move forward while Netanyahu is in office’ – Financial Times: The Financial Times slams Netanyahu as a “destructive force in Israel” in an editorial, declaring that “Israelis deserve better than his divisive rule”. The newspaper editorial board said that the Israeli prime minister “actively works to undermine the Palestinian Authority” and “has provided no plan for Gaza beyond a pledge to eradicate Hamas”.

“However improbable it appears today, the only secure future for Israel lies in a settlement with Palestinians. At its most anguished moment, Israel needs leaders who at least recognize that reality and are willing to make the case for a two-state solution. Netanyahu has never been such a leader,” the board wrote.

Gaza hospitals

People inspect the damage in a room in Nasser Hospital, Khan Younis, after and Israeli strike
People inspect the damage in a room in Nasser Hospital, Khan Younis, after and Israeli strike (photo)

Palestinian girl killed in Israeli attack on Nasser Hospital maternity ward: A Palestinian girl was killed in an Israeli attack that hit a maternity ward at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis Sunday. Three others were wounded.

Ashraf al-Qudra, the health ministry’s spokesperson, said the shell hit the building and penetrated through a wall but failed to detonate, adding that, “if the shell had exploded inside the building, it would have caused a large and horrific massacre.”

A reporter on the scene has shared footage of the aftermath of the attack, The video, verified by Al Jazeera, shows the impact of the shelling as well as the destruction inside the hospital, where there is a large number of injured and displaced Palestinians from across the Gaza Strip.

Al Shifa doctor and his family killed: The head of emergency department of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza and his family were “brutally” killed in an Israeli attack. Norwegian doctor and activist Mads Gilbert, who has worked with Palestinians for 30 years, and been in Gaza during all of the major Israeli aggressions, announced on X,

“My good friend and dear colleague, Dr. Hani Al-Haitham, head of Shifa emergency department, was brutally murdered by Israel, along with his beloved wife, Dr. Sameera Ghifari and their five children Shireen, Tia, Sameer, Wafa & Sara. In cold blood, coward Israeli soldiers killed seven more unarmed civilians,” Gilbert said on X.

“Another attack on all of us, on all humankind. You will never be forgotten, we pledge: we will rebuild Shifa, Gaza, Palestine!” Gilbert added.

Al-Awda Hospital director being held in unknown location: The Israeli army is detaining Ahmed Muhanna, the director of Gaza’s al-Awda Hospital, in an unknown location, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra has said.

Other medical staff at the hospital in the Jabalia refugee camp were detained, stripped and interrogated for four hours in “inhumane conditions” before being released, al-Qudra added in a statement posted on Sunday night.

WHO chief condemns the ‘destruction’ of Kamal Adwan Hospital: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he is “appalled” by attacks on the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza. “Gaza’s health system was already on its knees and the loss of another even minimally functioning hospital is a severe blow,” the WHO chief wrote.

Israeli forces besieged and shelled the hospital for several days last week, with men and boys sheltering inside rounded up during raids. On Saturday, witnesses said Israeli forces bulldozed tents housing displaced Palestinians near the hospital, crushing people inside to death.

Palestinians assess damage following an Israeli raid at Kamal Adwan Hospital
Palestinians assess damage following an Israeli raid at Kamal Adwan Hospital (photo)

Palestinians search for loved ones after Israel’s bulldozer attack on Kamal Adwan Hospital: In what was once the courtyard of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, Palestinians waded through the rubble, searching for corpses. Israeli forces are accused of crushing to death Palestinians sheltering outside the hospital using bulldozers.

Outside the hospital courtyard, which showed tank and bulldozer tracks, Abu Mohammed, who came to look for his son, stood crying. “I don’t know how I will find him,” he said, pointing to the debris.

Israeli troops stormed the hospital during a days-long siege, the Gaza’s health ministry says. Israel’s army says Hamas used the facility as a command center. It has made similar accusations about other hospitals that have proven untrue.

RECOMMENDED READING: Israel’s genocidal war against Palestinians is a colonial tradition

Calls for probe into Israel’s treatment of Gaza detainees: The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has called for an impartial and urgent international investigation into the arrest and killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army in Gaza. In a press release, the Geneva-based group said it gathered testimonies from released detainees that confirm reports published by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper about field executions of Palestinians arrested in Gaza that took place at the Sde Teman Israeli military base near the city of Be’er Sheva.

It described the base as “a new Guantanamo-like prison” where detainees – ranging from young children to elderly people – are caged in inhumane conditions, and barred from meeting with lawyers and receiving visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross. They were also denied food and drink for long periods of time, the organization said.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Why does Israel keep the bodies of Palestinians?

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Starving Palestinians loot aid trucks as desperation mounts: The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to deteriorate after two months of incessant Israeli bombing and forced displacement of nearly two million people.

Dozens of Palestinians surrounded the aid trucks after they drove in through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, forcing some to stop before climbing on board, pulling food and water boxes down, and carrying them off or passing them to crowds below.

Palestinian children take shelter at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in the city of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, on November 15. Displaced civilians told CNN the arrival of winter in Gaza further threatens their survival.
Palestinian children take shelter at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in the city of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, on November 15. Displaced civilians told CNN the arrival of winter in Gaza further threatens their survival. (photo)

Israel using starvation as a weapon of war, HRW says: In a new report, the prominent human rights group has accused Israel of starving civilians in Gaza “as a method of warfare”, a strategy that amounts to a war crime.

“For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

Under international law, deprivation of objects indespensible to survival is a war crime. Criminal intent does not require the attacker’s admission but can also be inferred from the totality of the circumstances of the military campaign, it adds.

Gaza water system ‘completely collapsed’: The lack of water or sanitation could soon become equally as “dangerous” as the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, according to a member of Doctors without Borders, known by its French initials MSF. “The water system isn’t working anymore – it has completely collapsed,” Ricardo Martinez, who spent four weeks in Gaza during the war, said in an interview posted on the aid group’s website.

“People are being pushed to the limit, having to fight for their survival. At most, people have one liter of water per day – that’s for drinking, washing and cooking,” added Martinez, a logistics coordinator for MSF.

Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, Sunday Dec 17
Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, Sunday Dec 17 (photo)

‘Uninhabitable’ Gaza will face environmental disaster for decades after war: PAX For Peace, the largest peace organization in the Netherlands, reports on the situation in Gaza:

Palestinians will face an “uninhabitable” Gaza for decades to come because of Israel’s deadly ongoing war, which has laid waste to urban areas, agricultural land and all basic infrastructure in the besieged Palestinian territory, according to experts.

“In any war and conflict, the toxic trail that is left upon generations after the guns fall silent will be there, because of debris management, oil installations, sewerage,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said on Sunday.

PAX for Peace, a Netherlands-based organization that works in conflict areas across the world, carried out a rapid environment assessment study on Gaza.

The basic conditions needed for life in Gaza have been “seriously degraded” by Israel’s military campaign, according to Wim Zwijnenburg, humanitarian disarmament project lead at PAX and one of the lead authors of the study titled “Uninhabitable?”.

Read the full report here.

United States and elsewhere

UN Security Council to vote for cessation of hostilities in Gaza: The UN Security Council (UNSC) is set to convene later today to vote for a new resolution calling for a suspension of the fighting in Gaza. The draft text “calls for an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access in the Gaza Strip for those in need”.

The vote comes after it failed to pass a resolution on December 8 calling an immediate ceasefire due to a US veto.

World leaders and intellectuals sign ‘declaration on Gaza genocide’: At least 115 world leaders and intellectuals have signed a declaration on genocide’ calling for an immediate ceasefire. The declaration states that Israel has ignored worldwide protests and pleas for a permanent ceasefire, instead worsening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, forcing the medical system to fail and for people to starve. The letter states in part,

Under these circumstances, this Declaration calls not only for the denunciation of Israel’s genocidal assault but also for taking effective action to permanently prevent its repetition.

We come together due to the urgency of the moment, which obliges global intellectuals to stand against the ongoing horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people and, most of all, to implore action by those who have the power, and hence the responsibility, to do so.

US Senator Lindsey Graham: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says Israel will have to accept a two-state solution if it wants to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia. “We have two choices: continue the death spiral, or use Oct. 7th as a catalyst for change.”

Notably, Israeli PM Netanyahu has expressed that he has no intention of allowing the creation of a Palestinian state.

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip cook at the makeshift tent camp in al-Mawasi
Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip cook at the makeshift tent camp in al-Mawasi (photo)


Palestinian death toll since October 7: OCHA reports at least 19,279* (~18,982 in Gaza* (7,729 children), and at least 297 in the West Bank). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble. Euro-Med Monitor reports 25,612 Palestinian deaths.

*IAK does not yet include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile is being disputed; although much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, experts are still looking into the incidentIsrael is blocking an international investigation. Israel killed more Palestinians in a little over a month after Oct. 7 than in all the previous 22 years combined.

Palestinian injuries since October 7: 58,607** (including at least 55,000 in Gaza** and 3,607 in the West Bank). **NOTE: it is impossible to provide an accurate number of injuries in Gaza due to the ongoing bombardment and communication disruption. 

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties. in Gaza**. About 1.9 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population).

Reported Israeli death toll since October 7: ~1,147  (7 killed in West Bank, 121 in Gaza), including 32 Americans, and 5,431 injured, approximately 36 children).

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel may have been caused by Israeli soldiers; additionally, since Israel has a policy of universal conscription, it is unknown how many of those attending the outdoor rave a few miles from Gaza on stolen Palestinian land were Israeli soldiers.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates hereFor more news, go here and here. Live broadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.


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