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June 5, 2024

This has severely hampered Gaza’s capacity to feed itself by growing vegetables, fruit, and wheat at a time when the population is at risk of famine and more than 3,500 children under the age of five risk dying due to the shortage of food, according to Gaza’s Government Media Office. In the past week alone, two children have reportedly died as a result of malnutrition.   

In some areas of Gaza, raw sewage is running between tents and mountains of rubbish are piling up in the streets because sewage and waste facilities are either damaged or unable to function due to the lack of fuel. This not only poses a serious immediate health risk to the population but will have serious long-term consequences for the environment.  

Amjad Al Shawa, the director of the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO), an umbrella organization of 30 Palestinian NGOs and a partner of ActionAid Palestine, told ActionAid: 

“The shortage of fuel affects the municipality services to collect [and treat] sewage and collect rubbish from the streets and between the shelters, which [are] now overcrowded with the new [internally displaced people]. The untreated sewage channels [are now] between the tents, which is a serious concern for the people who are living in these plastic or cloth tents. It has serious implications on the health situation, and we have concerns regarding the contagious diseases.” 

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are having to endure these conditions in the midst of a scorching heatwave, without enough water or sufficient shelter from the sun. The lack of fuel means that vital desalination plants have shut down, UNRWA says, forcing people to walk long distances in the heat to try and find water.   
In the West Bank, too, Palestinians are being denied their right to a clean and safe environment. A recent report found that sewage and other hazardous wastewater from Israeli settlements was being dumped in Palestinian lands, damaging crops and leaving agricultural land unusable.    
Meanwhile, farmers are regularly being prevented from accessing their grazing land, crops, and olive trees by restrictions of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities or settler violence.   
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said: 

“As well as killing tens of thousands of Palestinians, mostly women and children, the Israeli military’s brutal onslaught of Gaza has had a devastating impact on the natural environment, severely disrupting its ecosystems and biodiversity. Even if this crisis ended tomorrow, its poisonous legacy will live on in the land, soil and water for many years to come.   
The destruction of agricultural land and greenhouses has made food production almost impossible in Gaza, and with only a trickle of aid entering the territory, people are starving, and children are dying of malnutrition. The current heatwave is making life even more intolerable for Gaza’s hundreds of thousands of displaced people who have nowhere to hide from the sun and no water to quench their thirst. The high temperatures will only increase the health risks posed by the raw sewage and piles of rubbish in the street.   
This unbearable situation cannot go on any longer, there must be a permanent ceasefire now to prevent more lives being needlessly lost and so that aid on the vast scale required can be safely delivered to those in need.” 


For media requests, please email or call 202-731-9593.

Spokespeople are available:

  • Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
  • Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine

About ActionAid   

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.   

Demand a ceasefire now!

The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated: every single day that passes without a permanent ceasefire further deepens this stain on humanity’s collective conscience. The violence must stop, hostages must be freed, innocent captives must be released, and humanitarian aid must flow freely. It is critical that the U.S. takes decisive action to address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza and upholds its obligations, bound by international law, to protect civilians in times of conflict. Your advocacy and attention to ongoing violence in Gaza is critical.