“Water shortages have become critical at UN shelters throughout Gaza, where thousands have sought refuge in the courtyard of the territory’s most prominent hospital as a last resort against an impending Israeli ground offensive. Overwhelmed doctors are grappling with the challenge of caring for patients whose lives are at risk once the generators run out of fuel.
The Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, which has already endured years of conflict, is facing a dire situation on Sunday due to an unprecedented Israeli military operation in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.
Israel has severed the supply of essential provisions such as food, medicine, water, and electricity to Gaza while launching airstrikes that have devastated neighborhoods. Additionally, Israeli authorities have instructed an estimated 1 million residents north of Gaza to relocate to the south before an impending attack. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 2,300 Palestinians have died since the conflict erupted last weekend.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated that Israeli officials assured him that water supply had been restored in southern Gaza. However, the spokesperson for Israel’s energy and water ministry, Adir Dahan, clarified that water flowed at only one location in south Gaza. Aid workers in Gaza have not yet observed concrete evidence of the water’s restoration, and a spokesperson for the Gaza government confirmed that water was not yet flowing.
In Khan Younis, residents hurried to mosques where clean water was still available for the time being. Eyad Aqel, a local resident, explained that electricity outages prevented water pumping to refill his water tank. He had a small water container made of plastic, which he said would serve as his family’s supply for cooking and washing.
Touma revealed that over a quarter of a million people in Gaza have moved to shelters with the majority seeking refuge in UN schools in the past 24 hours.
In Gaza, families are forced to ration their water supplies, with many resorting to drinking dirty or brackish water. Some have even turned to contaminated wells and the sea, heightening the risk of dehydration, waterborne diseases, and further casualties.