As relative calm settles over Gaza for the first time in three weeks following the Israeli ceasefire, the scale of the humanitarian crisis is becoming evident. Some 100 bodies have been discovered in areas that were previously inaccessible.
[See latest UN field update (PDF) on Gaza needs]
The grim discovery brings the Gaza death toll since the Israeli offensive began on 27 December 2008 to over 1,300, according to officials of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) - and that number is expected to rise. Over 5,400 have been wounded.
Israel has tightly controlled information during its military operation, not allowing foreign correspondents into the Strip, although some Israeli media were allowed in briefly - but under the supervision of the Israeli army spokesperson’s unit.
News agencies still operating in Gaza report that many of the civilians who had fled their homes over the past few weeks were heading back, carrying whatever they had on donkeys.
But many will find they have nowhere to return to, aid agencies said. It is now estimated - by the Israeli army in conjunction with some Palestinian sources on the ground - that the Israeli army destroyed some 15 percent of buildings in Gaza and severely damaged infrastructural facilities.
Read more Gaza reports in English Gaza reports in Arabic
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released an update on 17 January describing the difficult situation in hospitals across Gaza.
“Although Shifa hospital continues to function in an effective manner, its capacity to cope with the high number of patients is stretched to the limit. Apart from receiving and treating the newly injured, it has had to care for 60 patients evacuated from Al-Quds Hospital and a rehabilitation centre in Gaza City, both damaged by shelling on 15 January,” the ICRC said.
In the meantime, the influx of injured people continues.
“Most of the wounds we're treating are blast injuries,” said Samir Kazkaz, a Qatari Red Crescent surgeon who recently joined the ICRC surgical team at Al-Shifa Hospital. "They are horrific and often require amputations. Twelve seriously injured people have had limbs amputated over the past 48 hours," Kazkaz said on 17 January.
Israel’s newly appointed coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza, Welfare Minister Issac Herzog, toured southern Israel on 18 January, but his office has not yet said anything about humanitarian aid for Gaza.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
We uncovered the sex abuse scandal that rocked the WHO, but there’s more to do
We just covered a report that says the World Health Organization failed to prevent and tackle widespread sexual abuse during the Ebola response in Congo.
Our investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation triggered this probe, demonstrating the impact our journalism can have.
But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking.
We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.
The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and do more of this.