Since the 7-day humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas ended on 1 December, widespread bombardment has resumed in Gaza putting the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk, warns the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Already, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed and almost 2,000 injured since the restart of the conflict. Many of these attacks have taken place in central and southern areas of Gaza where people were told they would be safe. At the same time the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel has recommenced.

Now, as Israel orders people to evacuate southern areas of Gaza, Palestinians are left without anywhere to flee to, creating fear and uncertainty for the thousands of people who have already been displaced. Civilians' decisions to move must be voluntary. For those who do decide to move their right to return must be guaranteed. While those who are unable, or unwilling, to leave once again must remain protected. 

The resumption of hostilities has not only caused injury and loss of life, but has further constrained humanitarian assistance. It is becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian organisations, including our NGO partners, to stay safe, let alone provide the level of support people require. Humanitarian activities are now grinding to a halt. In Khan Younis - an area many civilians have fled to in southern Gaza, the UN reports that even basic distributions were forced to stop on 3 December due to insecurity. After seven days of relative respite from the fighting, once again nowhere in Gaza is safe. Without a sustained ceasefire, it is not possible to respond to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding across Gaza.

Bob Kitchen, IRC Vice President for Emergencies, said,

“80% of Gaza’s population have already been displaced, with the majority of homes totally or partially destroyed. Further orders to relocate from Israeli forces are causing fear and confusion, as there is nowhere safe to go. Even in Rafah and Khan Yunis where people have been encouraged to flee to, daily bombardment continues to kill civilians and damage infrastructure. Those already displaced face shortages of food and water, and the outbreak of disease. UNRWA have already confirmed an outbreak of Hepatitis A in one of their facilities. 

"The only way for civilians to be protected and for humanitarian assistance to be provided at the necessary scale required is for the conflict to end. The need for a ceasefire becomes more urgent as each hour passes, with more than two million Palestinians facing humanitarian catastrophe. Parties to conflict must agree to a lasting ceasefire which protects civilians from harm, enables the release of all hostages, and allows for a step-change in the assistance provided to people across the whole of Gaza.”