Urgent need for Gaza ceasefire amid deteriorating humanitarian crisis

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RS363472_Oct 28_ Al Zahra City destruction Gaza-lpr
Residential buildings in Al Zahra City in central Gaza were destroyed in fighting in October 2023, displacing residents of this area. Alef Multimedia Company/Oxfam

Civilians are confronted by continued threats from weapons, as well as starvation, thirst, and disease

Following the renewal of hostilities in Gaza in early December, Oxfam and other humanitarian groups are expressing concerns that the Israeli military attack in southern Gaza is causing destruction, danger, and civilian terror and suffering at a scale that makes any humanitarian response impossible across the entire enclave.

“Our political leaders are failing – in abject weakness – to forge a ceasefire, which is the only possible humanitarian action that now really matters,” said Oxfam Humanitarian Director Marta Valdes Garcia.

Food delivery challenges

Oxfam’s partners are confirming how dangerous conditions are in Gaza, and the challenges they face in delivering aid to civilians. The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) working with Oxfam has procured 4,750 parcels of fresh vegetables and fruit they are distributing to displaced families in southern Gaza. Getting the food to people is proving challenging, says one staff person who was able to get a message to Oxfam. “We were preparing to distribute items in a specific street, and it was bombed. More than 130 people lost their lives, and they were just passing [in] the streets…”

PARC is also reporting they are working to overcome increased prices for fuel and food, and lack of access to vegetable-producing areas in Khan Yunis, now the scene of fighting.

“This is one of the most difficult … wars we have experienced. If you look anywhere, you will find displaced people, injured people, and people sleeping in the streets, and we face many difficulties in distributing aid because there is no safe place in Gaza. Every area can be dangerous.”

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Staff from Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee are providing packages of fresh produce for families displaced by conflict in southern Gaza. PARC/Oxfam

Gaza ceasefire necessary to deliver aid

Marta Valdes Garcia says Oxfam is joining humanitarian groups around the world urging “diplomatic efforts to press for a lasting ceasefire, ensure access to humanitarian aid via Israel and Egypt to all those who need it, and secure the release of remaining hostages.”

The United States has an important role to play to end this conflict, says Oxfam’s America’s Associate Director of Peace and Security Scott Paul. “President Biden and the US government must do all in its power to protect civilians and ultimately bring an end to the hostilities,” he says. “US officials have specifically demanded that there be no area bombardment, no forced displacement, the continued flow of significant aid, no ‘safe zones’ – which, by implication, have rendered other areas ‘free fire’ zones – and, perhaps most importantly, that commercial activity be allowed to resume. The Biden administration must make clear that its ongoing, unlimited support for Israel is at stake.”

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