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Gaza in numbers: 30,000 dead, 80% displaced, half million on brink of famine

As the war in Gaza enters its sixth month, Palestinians face violence at aid distribution points, with possibility of famine ‘almost inevitable,’ UN
Palestinian citizens inspect the effects of destruction caused by air strikes on their homes on Nov. 25, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

Over 30,000 have been killed, more than half a million are on the brink of famine and 80% of the population is displaced. As Israel’s war in Gaza enters its sixth month, the numbers have prompted international organizations to declare the enclave in a state of humanitarian disaster. 

“Since early October, over 100,000 people have been killed or wounded. Let me repeat that: About one in every 20 children, women, and men are now dead or wounded,” Volker Turk, UN high commissioner for human rights, said on Thursday. 

While there have been doubts about the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health estimates, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Thursday in a congressional hearing that the death count is over 25,000, giving brief US credence to the estimates. The Pentagon walked back Secretary Austin’s comments a few hours later, saying, "We cannot independently verify these Gaza casualty figures." 

On Thursday morning, a further 104 Gazans were killed after thousands flocked to an aid distribution point. The Israeli Defense Forces said the crowd was perceived as a "threat," calling it a "stampede." 

The catastrophic events are amplified by the lack of readily receivable aid — just over 2,300 aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip in February, down by about 50% compared with January, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. 

For the month, that is an average of well below 100 trucks per day. Before the war, around 500 aid trucks were entering daily. 

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Maurizio Martina, deputy director general of the FAO, said that some 97% of groundwater in Gaza is "reportedly unfit for human consumption."

The number of unaccompanied wounded children being treated at Gaza’s medical facilities led to the emergence of a new acronym, WCNSF: “wounded child, no surviving family.” UNICEF estimates 17,000 children have been separated from their parents or remain unaccompanied. For children under the age of two, every one in six is reported to be acutely malnourished, according to the World Health Organization. 

For Palestinians wishing to buy goods to survive in lieu of the aid trucks, AFP reported that one kilo of sugar costs "between 80 and 100 shekels ($22-28),” with the price of yeast at 100 shekels. 

The cost to leave the besieged territory is priced much higher — an Al-Monitor correspondent in Gaza said that one must pay approximately $5,000 per adult to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. 

The war began after Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in the death of around 1,160 people, according to official Israeli figures.