Heat brings more health risks to Gaza Strip

Rising temperatures are introducing new health risks to Gaza’s population, already suffering from overcrowding and the destruction of sanitation infrastructure, compounded by continuous Israeli attacks

June 28, 2024 by Peoples Health Dispatch
Displaced families in Rafah (Photo via Wafa News Agency/X)

The first group of critically ill children has been evacuated from the Gaza Strip since evacuations paused on May 7, 2024. For more than a month and a half, Israel blocked all medical evacuations while intensifying its attacks on the southern regions. This has further undermined health in Gaza, where at least 500 health workers have been killed since the beginning of the attacks on October 7, and most of the population is suffering from extreme hunger.

The most recent analytical snapshots published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) foresee that in the period between mid-June and the end of September, 96% of the people in Gaza will face acute malnutrition or have to forgo other essential needs to procure the minimum necessary amounts of food.

Currently, 95% of the population is experiencing this dire situation. The impediment of aid delivery is among the reasons leading to food scarcity, but attacks on aid workers and operations, as well as the destruction of more than half of Gaza’s croplands, are equally significant.

Starved and forced to live in overcrowded spaces, the people of Gaza are now also dealing with rising heat. In previous months, the risk of outbreaks increased due to the cold weather and the impossibility of warming up amid shortages of fuel, with electricity being cut off by Israel. But life in the tents is equally difficult now, with temperatures rising above 30ºC (86ºF). Not only is this a health hazard in itself, but it also leads to the spread of bugs and mosquitoes, carrying risks of their own.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned early on about the long-term effects of the war on Gaza, stating that without a ceasefire, communicable diseases outbreaks, exacerbated by extreme temperatures and vectors, might lead to even more deaths from communicable diseases than the attacks themselves. In a context of prevalent hunger, no water, and overflowing sewage, this breaking point might be just around the corner.

Read more: Remember the Palestinian doctors killed by Israel

Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) continue their attacks on healthcare infrastructure and workers in Gaza. Among those most recently killed are Doctors Without Borders physiotherapist Fadi Al-Wadiya and director of ambulance and emergency services Hani Al-Jafarawi. Al-Wadiya was targeted while biking to work; three children were also killed in the same attack.

“Killing a healthcare worker on his way to provide vital medical care to wounded victims of the endless massacres across Gaza is beyond shocking. It’s cynical and abhorrent,” said Caroline Seguin, MSF operations manager for Palestine.

Since October 7, the IOF has killed close to 40,000 people in Gaza and injured at least 86,000. Thousands more remain buried in the debris, and hundreds have been kidnapped or disappeared by Israeli armed forces.

People’s Health Dispatch is a fortnightly bulletin published by the People’s Health Movement and Peoples Dispatch. For more articles and subscription to People’s Health Dispatch, click here.