icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

7 things you should know about the Gaza crisis right now

A Palestinian child displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip stands in a tent camp in Khan Younis, in Southern Gaza Strip. Photo: CARE International

A Palestinian child displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip stands in a tent camp in Khan Younis, in Southern Gaza Strip. Photo: CARE International

Over two months of relentless bombing have turned life for people in Gaza into “hell on earth.”

Displacement, hunger, lack of medical care and clean water — and now, the onset of winter — are stretching the coping abilities of children and their families to the limit.

The Ministry of Health has been unable to update the death toll for the past few days, and many of the bodies that remain trapped under the rubble have not yet been counted, but the latest reports show that a staggering 1.9 million people have been displaced and at least 18,800 have been killed.

Approximately 51,000 people are reported injured, and thousands more are still missing.

The scope and impact of the crisis is nearly impossible to imagine for anyone not living through it.

So, to help readers better understand what’s happening, we‘ve gathered together these seven essential facts about what this war means for the people of Gaza right now.

1. This is the deadliest conflict for children in the world

Children playing in and on a damaged car outdoors
A Palestinian boy stands on the debris of his family's destroyed house following an airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. Photo: Grayscale Media

In times of war, CARE has seen over and over that it is often children and mothers who are most affected.

Even within this context, the hostilities in the Gaza Strip are having an especially catastrophic impact on children.

Every day since the recent crisis in Gaza began, an average of over 110 children have been killed.

In total, more than 7,700 children have reportedly been killed, 40% of the total reported fatalities.

More children have been killed in this conflict than in all major global conflicts combined in 2022.

2. Families have no homes to go back to

Rubble from flattened buildings. In the background, buildings are standing but clearly damaged.
Rubble from flattened buildings in Gaza. Photo: Grayscale Media

Nearly 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced over the past two months.

That’s 1.9 million people ordered to move, desperate to escape violence, scrounging for the basic necessities to survive.

Alaa and her children, like most of those fleeing, have had to move multiple times.

“We lived in four different places since the war started,” she says.

Nearly 60% of all houses in Gaza are estimated to have been either damaged or destroyed.

During the seven-day truce in late November, Saaed, CARE Gaza’s Emergency Coordinator, was able to speak to a friend who checked on his home in Gaza City.

“He told me that our house is completely destroyed,“ Saaed said. “The place where we raised a family for so many years has been reduced to nothing.”

Since the end of the truce, the levels of bombardment are worse than ever.

“We were told to leave our homes because the area will be hit by airstrikes. But we don’t know where else to go; there is nowhere we can go,” our colleague Salwa told us.

Almost 1.3 million Palestinians now live in just 155 United Nations shelters, many of which are hosting more than four times their capacity. These overcrowded shelters lack privacy and increase the risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse for women and girls.

As the crisis continues, families are setting up tents in open areas or are forced to sleep on the street.

3. Children can‘t go to school

A Palestinian child displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is seen through his family tent in a tentcamp in Khan Younis, in Southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Grayscale Media

Almost half of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip are under the age of 18.

In the current war, none of these children can receive any education at school, with many forced to use school buildings as a shelter.

Additionally, 70% of all school buildings, 342 in total, have been damaged in the fighting, including those sheltering children and their families.

Instead of playing or going to school, many children have been forced to spend their time on basic survival needs like collecting firewood to keep warm while they mourn dead parents and siblings.

“Education is a forgotten dream for children terrified this day might be their last,” says Aaron Brent, CARE’s Acting Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza.

“Psychological trauma has reached unprecedented highs. Mothers are telling us their children have stopped speaking or eating because of what they have seen and lived through. Others are crying and screaming with every loud sound they hear.”

Even before the current war, 15 years of blockade and conflict had horrific consequences for the psychological well-being of children in Gaza.

Now, CARE and other humanitarian organizations fear an entire generation of children’s lives are dictated by fear, distress, and mourning.

4. Gaza has become a moonscape

A Palestinian boy stands on the debris of his family's destroyed house following an airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. Photo: Grayscale Media

60% of Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed.

Homes, hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure such as water networks, sanitation facilities, and grain mills are destroyed or damaged.

Only eight out of 36 hospitals and medical facilities are partly operational, and at least 286 health workers have been killed.

For over two months, the Gaza Strip has been cut off from all electricity, and fuel reserves for its only power plant were depleted.

“Our team has spoken to doctors who must perform C-sections without anaesthesia and see mothers who lose their babies right after giving birth because there is no power to run incubators that could keep them alive,” said Hiba Tibi, CARE’s Acting Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Tens of thousands of wounded people — including 180 mothers giving birth every day – have been left without safe medical or delivery assistance.

The few hospitals that are still running have 2.5 times more people in intensive care units than their capacity.

Hospitals are also sheltering thousands of displaced people.

5. Sickness and disease are threatening survivors’ lives

Seated woman with head covering pouring from a yellow container
A woman fills small bottles of water to distribute to people in need at a makeshift camp in Khan Younis, in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Grayscale Media

Missiles and airstrikes are not the only killers in Gaza.

Malnutrition, cold, and lack of clean water and hygiene, all caused by the siege, are a deadly combination.

CARE is already seeing a significant spread of disease infecting and killing those who have survived the bombing and airstrikes. Many people have been forced to drink unsafe water.

Dehydration and waterborne diseases are a growing threat, especially among those living in makeshift tents in the open.

In such dire conditions, more people could die from disease than the bombings. Diarrhea, chicken pox, and scabies are on the rise, especially endangering the health of small children without medicine and amid horrific sanitation conditions.

With cold nights and heavy rains drenching clothes and mattresses, hypothermia becomes a deadly threat for the youngest.

“Lack of medical care, hygiene, and high levels of malnutrition while living in overcrowded shelters are a poisonous mix, and we fear the numbers of women and children dying of otherwise preventable and treatable diseases will rise,” said Hiba Tibi.

6. Famine is now a real risk

Searching for water in Gaza

Credit: Grayscale Media

According to the World Food Program, there is a high risk of famine and cases of dehydration and malnutrition are increasing rapidly.

The situation has further deteriorated since the truce ended with thousands more people needing to flee to areas that don’t have enough food and water for survival.

Up to half of all displaced people report going to sleep hungry, and 44 percent report “very severe hunger levels.”

Our colleague Salwa told us she and her family are surviving on canned food, and have queued hours to buy cooking gas. Food prices are skyrocketing, and families cannot afford to buy fresh produce on the market if it is available at all.

7. Aid agencies’ hands are tied, and humanitarian workers are dying every day

A crowd of people outdoors next to a truck
A crowd of people outdoors next to a truck in Gaza. Photo: CARE International

For most of the past year, around 500 truckloads of aid and commercial goods entered Gaza every day.

Over the past two months, only a few dozen trucks per day have been permitted to enter the enclave, despite communities needing more support than ever.

Lack of fuel, communication blackouts, and constant airstrikes make aid delivery difficult to impossible for those in need. More than 135 aid workers have been killed in the past two months alone.

Only an immediate and sustained ceasefire will allow humanitarian agencies to start addressing this unprecedented catastrophe and save the countless lives that are at risk.

Back to Top