Humanitarian crisis imminent in Gaza – NGO

The bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel is pushing the region into a humanitarian crisis, an NGO worker told RT. Hospitals are at full stretch, lacking basic supplies, and the situation is expected to worsen as the death toll continues to rise.

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In a live broadcast from Gaza punctuated by two loud blasts, NGO worker Gisela Schmidt-Martin described the drastic humanitarian situation in the region on the sixth day of the Israeli Pillar of Defense operation.

“A humanitarian crisis is imminent in relation to the hospitals and the supplies that they have,” Schmidt-Martin of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights told RT. Elaborating on the “grim” situation in hospitals, she said that as the conflict has worsened they are lacking such basic supplies as antibiotics and IV fluid.

She spoke of the widespread fear among the Palestinian population of the heralded escalation of Israel’s military campaign on the Gaza Strip.

“The majority of Gazans are just anxious for peace and freedom and the recognition of their right to self-determination,” said Schmidt-Martin. She added that the prospect of a ground invasion is really frightening because it is inevitable that the civilian death toll will “increase exponentially.”  

“People here are still traumatized by operation Cast Lead, which happened less than four years ago in which more than 1,100 civilians lost their lives,” Schmidt-Martin told RT. Israel’s last incursion into Gaza in 2009 decimated the area with accusations of war crimes linked to the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus in the fighting.

Palestinian women look at a relative at a hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, after she was wounded during Israeli shelling as clashes erupted along the border on November 10, 2012.  (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
Palestinian women look at a relative at a hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, after she was wounded during Israeli shelling as clashes erupted along the border on November 10, 2012. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

The latest figures put the death toll in Gaza at 95 people, 23 of whom were children, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Israel delivered a stark warning to Hamas on Monday following weekend talks in Cairo, saying they would escalate their military operations in Gaza in a matter of hours in Gaza did not cease missile fire on Israel.

Although Hamas has conceded that some progress was made during the negotiations, a spokesperson said that Israel was making unacceptable demands and with this in mind it looked unlikely that violence would cease any time soon.

Gaza’s humanitarian plight has drawn international attention, with protests being held worldwide in solidarity of the Palestinian population. Around 500 Egyptians crossed the border into Gaza on Sunday to show their support and to donate much-needed blood and medical supplies.

The Egyptian President has condemned the Israeli offensive in Gaza and is currently brokering talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo.

Wounded Palestinians lie on hospital beds after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip November 17, 2012. (Reuters/Ali Hassan)
Wounded Palestinians lie on hospital beds after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip November 17, 2012. (Reuters/Ali Hassan)
A Palestinian man undergoes kidney dialysis in a hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip March 24, 2012. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
A Palestinian man undergoes kidney dialysis in a hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip March 24, 2012. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)