WOODIES – Gaza and Its Current Public Health Catastrophe

Israeli ground operations essentially cut off Gaza City and northern Gaza, which resulted in the delivery of humanitarian aid from the south to some 300,000 internally displaced persons in the north coming to a halt. According to the Indonesia-Gaza Hospital Director, Atef al-Kahlout, If the hospital doesn’t get fuel, this is going to be a death sentence against the patients in northern Gaza. Besides that, Gaza has long had water and sanitation challenges, but today, it is in a state of emergency. Its dual water crisis combines a shortage of potable water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene with a lack of wastewater sanitation. Gaza’s inconsistent energy supply also dramatically limits the operations of its water and wastewater treatment facilities. This current report describes the state of water supply and sanitation in Gaza and analyzes water-related risks to public health in Gaza.


  • According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, since 7 October, 8,805 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 3,648 children and 2,187 women, and some 22,240 have been injured.
  • Israel has made an order to evacuate 22 hospitals in northern Gaza. The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe. As a result, over 2000 patients, from newborns in incubating to women with complications of pregnancy, are threatened. 
  • Some 1.8 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance, of which children comprise some 52%.
  • Based on a journal published by Shira Efron et al., more than 25% of all reported diseases in Gaza are caused by poor water quality and access.
  • Over 108,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage flow daily from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea, creating extreme public health hazards in Gaza, Israel, and Egypt.
  • Sourced from the Hamas-run Health Ministry, 40 medical centres had suspended operations at a time when the bombardment and displacement were putting enormous strain on the system. Also, the World Health Organization informed that a third of Gaza hospitals were not operating.
  • Gaza’s leading cancer treatment centre, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, ran out of fuel and was forced to stop most of its activities, which threatened some of the 70 patients in the treatment centre.
  1. Clean Water & Sanitation

Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities is a fundamental human right, but only one in ten people have direct access to safe water in the Gaza Strip. Rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, strict limitations on importing construction materials and water pumps, and a diminished and unreliable energy supply have accelerated the water crisis and exacerbated the water-related health risks. 

The fact that the war is still going on further hindered the rehabilitation of Gaza’s water and sanitation sectors. The water sanitation facilities to dispose of and treat sewage and wastewater are insufficient to meet people’s needs, causing the contamination of groundwater and increasingly posing public health threats.

  1. Health Facilities in Gaza

Since the attack carried out by Israeli aggression, which caused nearly 9000 people to die, Israeli aggression has given direction to evacuate more than 2000 patients who were in northern Gaza to southern Gaza. This evacuation order was vehemently opposed by WHO as it is responsible for providing direction and policy in handling global public health. According to them, many lives are at significant risk, such as babies using incubators and pregnant women who have complications. They can’t travel that far. In addition, hospitals in southern Gaza are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number of patients.

As medical students, we must do what we can to support the Palestinians, such as by: 

  • educating ourselves and other people 
  • staying informed and engaged 
  • donating to reputable organizations 
  • holding corporations involved in the occupation accountable

Do not be silent! We do not have the right to turn away from the ongoing crimes against humanity.

In the face of such unfettered devastation and suffering, humanity must prevail.

We demand #PermanentCeasefireNow!



  1. www.who.int. (n.d.). Evacuation orders by Israel to hospitals in northern Gaza are a death sentence for the sick and injured. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/14-10-2023-evacuation-orders-by-israel-to-hospitals-in-northern-gaza-are-a-death-sentence-for-the-sick-and-injured.
  2. WHO warns of ‘imminent public health catastrophe’ in Gaza. (2023). Reuters. [online] 31 Oct. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/who-warns-imminent-public-health-catastrophe-gaza-2023-10-31/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2023].
  3. reliefweb. int. (2023). Israel-Palestine crisis: Gaza’s north cut off from aid; death toll rising – occupied Palestinian territory | ReliefWeb. [online] Available at: https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/israel-palestine-crisis-gazas-north-cut-aid-death-toll-rising [Accessed 12 Nov. 2023].
  4. Al-Mughrabi, N. and Al-Mughrabi, N. (2023). Doctors report outbreaks of disease among Gaza’s displaced. Reuters. [online] 24 Oct. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-displaced-show-signs-disease-crowding-poor-sanitation-doctors-2023-10-24/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2023].
  5. Efron, S., Fischbach, J.R., Blum, I., Karimov, R.I. and Moore, M. (2018). The Public Health Impacts of Gaza’s Water Crisis: Analysis and Policy Options. www.rand.org. [online] Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2515.html.
  6. Hamas says Gaza water is still cut off; Israel says some is provided in the south. (2023). Reuters. [online] 16 Oct. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hamas-says-gaza-water-still-cut-off-israel-says-some-provided-south-2023-10-16/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2023].
  7. www.unicef.org. (n.d.). WASH: water, sanitation and hygiene. [online] Available at: https://www.unicef.org/sop/what-we-do/wash-water-sanitation-and-hygiene.