Written by Jack Elbaum
What’s happening: Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack and invasion of southern Israel, a dire humanitarian crisis has developed within the Gaza Strip.
- Context: Gaza is a tiny, very densely populated strip of land — only 25 miles long and, at its widest point, 7.5 miles.
The numbers: Since the war began, about 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents have been displaced from their homes, and many of the homes people fled are no longer habitable. One hundred percent of the population is facing food insecurity, and 25 percent faces severe hunger.
Medical care: Only seven out of 24 hospitals in southern Gaza are still operational. Patients have often been unable to obtain needed care, and there have been reports of unnecessary amputations — sometimes without anesthesia.
- Important: Despite huge amounts of humanitarian aid entering the strip, people in need often don’t receive it. Worse, there is no real plan to rectify the humanitarian crisis post-war.
Fighting everywhere: Hamas’s operations are concentrated within the strip’s biggest cities, including Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Jabalia. And Hamas built a tunnel system 350-450 miles long under a 140-square-mile piece of land; thus, it operates below most civilian infrastructure.
- Implications: When Israel invaded, fighting was inevitably concentrated in large, densely populated cities, creating a situation in which there were few safe places for civilians.
- At the same time: The civilian-to-combatant ratio in this war has ranged somewhere between 1.5-to-1 and 3-to-1. According to the UN, this is significantly better than the international average of 9-to-1.