Destruction from Israeli bombs in Gaza (Picture: Wikicommons/ Norsk Folkehjelp Norwegian People’s Aid)

Hamas and Israel agreed another two days of truce at the beginning of this week. But Israel’s leaders also threatened to return to the mass killing afterwards. The truce has revealed the extent of the damage done already by Israel, as well as the scale of the human emergency in Gaza.

Hundreds of dead bodies still lay decomposing on the streets, especially around hospitals that had been held under siege by Israeli troops. The assaults on hospitals and healthcare facilities have brought Gaza’s healthcare system to breaking point. Last week Israeli tanks, bombs and snipers attacked the Indonesian hospital and damaged the building so severely that it may never open again.

Only one hospital in the north of Gaza, the Kamal Adwan Hospital, was still receiving patients on Tuesday. Over 80 of those being treated at the hospital desperately needed to be transferred to a better-equipped one. But doctors said this is only possible if Israel agreed to extend the truce.

Patients Professor Ghassan Abu-Sittah, who was treating patients in Gaza, told a press conference that he believed Israel’s attempts to destroy medical services were always part of their plan. “The creation of an uninhabitable Gaza Strip was the aim. The destruction of all the components of modern life at which the health system lies was the main military objective,” he said.

Disease and illness were spreading among those who had been displaced. Those in the north of Gaza only received fresh water on Monday of this week. Water sources have been a target of Israel’s, and it has destroyed many desalination plants and water wells. This has forced people to drink from unsafe water sources, leading to a spike in diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases.

Israel’s attacks have also collapsed food systems that sustain the people of Gaza. Palestinian farmers are struggling to keep their livestock alive due to a lack of water. They have no choice but to abandon their crops because of a shortage of fuel used to pump irrigation water.

And the Israeli bombardment has destroyed many of the shops and markets where Palestinians bought their food. Hundreds of thousands will now be completely reliant on aid. Tamara Alrifai, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said, “If there are no commercial goods in the stores, what we’re doing effectively is actively turning an entire population into a population that exclusively relies on food aid.” 

While the truce allowed for more aid to reach Gaza, the number of aid trucks allowed to cross the border was still half the number that reached it before the war. Israel has let in around 85 tonnes of cooking gas in the last four days, but this has been nowhere near enough. Its brutality has forced Palestinians to burn any wood they can find to both cook food and stay warm.

‘Everything is destroyed. We can’t take it anymore,’ displaced Gazans say

The number of people in Gaza that Israel has displaced is now more than it expelled during the 1948 Nakba, which saw 850,000 Palestinians forced from their land. Over 1.7 million people are displaced within Gaza—around 80 percent of the population.

The Palestinian minister of health said that more than 56,000 Palestinians are also homeless following Israel’s attacks.  Many of those Israel has forced from their homes are descendants of those who were displaced by the state in the first catastrophe. 

Israel’s latest round of slaughter has rained down for more than a month. With the bombing temporarily paused, Palestinians were able to return to their homes. Many discovered that Israeli bombs had turned them to rubble.

Oussama al Bass returned back to his home in Al-Zahra, south of Gaza City. “I came to see if there was anything left, or if there was anything I could salvage. We fled with nothing,” he said as he looked at the ruins of his home. “It’s nothingness, everything is destroyed, everything is lost. We’re tired. That’s enough. We can’t take it anymore.”

Israel is purposefully still starving, killing and injuring as many Palestinians as possible.  But it’s doing more than just slaughtering. It’s also set on destroying anything that sustains Palestinian life, or can support the people who have stayed alive.  Drones captured the levels of destruction in the south of Gaza City.

Israel had flattened residential towers in the Al-Zahra neighbourhood. In the Al-Shati refugee camp, where 90,000 people used to live in a tiny area, Israeli bombs had destroyed countless homes. In almost every part of Gaza, there are similar images being released of neighbourhoods reduced to nothing. 

Bombs have damaged most of the mosques in Gaza, and destroyed public buildings, such as the Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Center in the Al-Rimal neighbourhood. Israeli tanks have even destroyed trees and targeted places Palestinians use for leisure.  The scale of Israel’s assault should never be forgotten.

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