What’s happening in Gaza and Israel?

The situation in Gaza and Israel is fast-moving and at times confusing. Here's what's happening, and what you can do to help.

Last updated: 16 May 2024

Ameera walks to her workplace, where she cooks food for IDPs, after signing a contract with a local organization in Gaza. Image: Alef Multimedia

A woman wearing a hijab and abaya walks alone along a road with bombed buildings either side of it.

People in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day since January, as Israeli forces continue their military onslaught. Over 300,000 people are believed to still be trapped there, unable to leave. Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war.

  • Famine is imminent in northern Gaza.
  • 1.1 million people, half of Gaza, face catastrophic levels of hunger
  • Israel is actively preventing the delivery of international aid.
  • Israel has over the past seven months attacked bakeries, food stores and aid trucks, water infrastructure and places of worship.

The destruction caused by the Israeli airstrikes in Al Remal neighbourhood in the middle of Gaza City during the fourth day of the escalation. Image: Marwan sawwaf/Alef MultiMedia/Oxfam

A child's soft toy of Minnie Mouse among the rubble in Gaza and a building in the background on fire.

The destruction caused by the Israeli airstrikes in Al Remal neighbourhood in the middle of Gaza City during the fourth day of the escalation.

Over the past seven months, the Government of Israel has been carrying out relentless airstrikes and ground attacks on Palestinian civilians and declared a 'total siege on Gaza' - actively severing access to water, food, electricity, fuel and other vital supplies. People in Gaza are facing starvation, death and disease.

What is happening in Rafah?

Over a million people fled to Rafah in the south of Gaza following evacuations orders by the Israeli military and to escape the constant bombardment and attacks. Now with the Israeli invasion of Rafah, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee again, many for the fifth time since October, to already overcrowded shelters and camps. Fuel, food and other essential aid is running out due to the closure of nearby border crossings.

How much food is getting into Gaza?

The people in Gaza used to rely on about 500 truckloads a day for food and commercial goods. Over the past few months, only a fraction of food that used to be delivered daily has been allowed through.

Without a ceasefire, and an end to the siege, it is extremely difficult for the international humanitarian system to work safely to distribute aid and help protect the lives of civilians. Crops, farms and fishing fleets have been destroyed by the bombing, there is no food for the livestock.

Right now, the entire population doesn’t have enough food and famine is imminent in northern Gaza. People, including children, are already dying of malnutrition and dehydration.

The collective punishment of a civilian population with bombing, violence and blocking essential supplies, is illegal under international law. The Government of Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war.

A tap with a cross over it on a photo of bombed buildings

In Gaza water has become a luxury item

Having been under an Israeli blockade for the last 16 years, Gaza already had limited ability to manage its essential resources, particularly water.

Now, more than two million people are struggling to survive without access to clean water, which is a fundamental human right.

  • Israel has destroyed most of Gaza's sewage treatment works, while rubbish is not being collected risking disease spreading.
  • The fuel needed to keep power plants running is being prevented from entering Gaza.
  • Bottled water stocks are running low.
  • 97% of Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption.
  • On average, each person has access to only three litres of water for all their needs, far below the World Health Organization's standard of 50-100 litres.
  • There is no access to clean water in the northern regions of Gaza.

Where is humanity? Children are experiencing severe trauma from the constant bombardment, their drinking water is polluted or rationed and soon families may not be able to feed them too.”

– Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Regional Middle East Director

Are there any hospitals left in Gaza?

Right now, Gaza has just 13 hospitals (partially) working, 23 have been destroyed. Out of these, only two hospitals are providing maternity services.

Those most at risk are people with disabilities, pregnant or new mothers, those recovering from injuries and people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.

Where are people living in Gaza?

Right now, 1.7 million of people (75% of the entire population) have been forced from their homes in Gaza amid ongoing airstrikes and bombardment. Many have been displaced multiple times. Over 60% of residential buildings have been damaged.

People are sheltering together in overcrowded schools, mosques, tents, and makeshift shelters. Many are staying with family and friends, all while facing a lack of power and limited access to water, food, hygiene, and health services.

What about in the West Bank?

Since 7 October, violence has also escalated in the West Bank, as over 450 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 5,000 people have been injured. The majority of people have been killed by Israeli military forces, but some have also been killed by Israeli settlers.

How did we get to this?

On the 7th October Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups carried out appalling, brutal attacks on civilians in Israel. Over 1,200 people were killed and 240 people were taken hostage. Over 100 people remain hostage in Gaza still.

The Government of Israel responded by launching ongoing air strikes and ground attacks in Gaza resulting in catastrophic loss of life and injuries to Palestinian civilians. Israel also announced it was imposing a ‘total siege’, stopping all supplies of food, water and fuel from entering Gaza.

Right now, 2.3 million people are trapped under siege.

Even before the events of last October, the Israeli military has occupied Palestinian territory, which includes Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem for 56 years. Israel had also imposed, a blockade on Gaza for over 16 years. which has devastated Gaza's economy, left most people unable to leave Gaza, restricted them from essential services such as healthcare, and cut Palestinians off from each other. Almost 80% of people in Gaza already relied on international aid to survive.

Military force cannot resolve this decades-long conflict and this recent escalation in violence is not bringing us any closer to the peace that Palestinians and Israelis need and deserve.

What is Oxfam doing?

Oxfam has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel since the 1950s. We have supported communities in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem (where the Government of Israel maintains full military and civil control) to tackle the root causes of conflict, build resilience to sudden shocks and protect their rights.

Oxfam staff member Ghada Alhaddad stands in the Al-Mawasi area, collecting notes and reflections from people on the ground. Alef Multimedia/Oxfam

A woman with a pink hijab and green Oxfam vest holds a pen and paper and stands talking to a woman in black hijab by some tents on dusty ground.

The continuing bombardment, and restriction on goods entering Gaza, has made a full-scale humanitarian response extremely difficult. Despite the restrictions and dangers, Oxfam staff and partners have been responding as best they can within their communities and where they are now sheltering

Among these groups are The Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Juzoor, the Culture & Free Thought Association (CFTA), and Palestinian Environmental Friends (PEF). They are responding in their communities by providing vouchers, and essential hygiene supplies like soap, shampoo, menstrual products, and toothpaste. This assistance is reaching those living in makeshift shelters in Rafah and Khan Younis, in the southern region of the Gaza Strip.

Oxfam is calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire for Israel and Palestine, and for Israel to allow unfettered access to humanitarian relief. We are calling for an end to the blockade and the occupation and the recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination. These steps are crucial for bringing about peace and stability in the region.

What needs to happen now?

  • An immediate and permanent ceasefire
  • An end to the total siege and allow unfettered access for humanitarian relief
  • The protection of all civilians, including the release of all hostages
  • The UK to stop arms sales to Israel
  • Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent the risk of genocide
  • Work towards a lasting and just peace for all Palestinians and Israelis

The need for an immediate and permanent ceasefire

The international community, including the UK, must use all tools at their disposal to secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire as this is the only way to stop the death and destruction, ensure the safe release of hostages and get more aid to those who need it.

A ceasefire must also be a precursor to creating a lasting and just peace for all Palestinians and Israelis. To break the cycle of violence, the international community must tackle the root causes of injustice and violence that is being perpetrated under the Israeli occupation and blockade of Gaza.

Allow unfettered access to humanitarian relief

The Government of Israel must end the total siege of Gaza and allow enough humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, food, fuel, and water can reach all those who need it.

Protect all civilians and release the hostages

All parties in any conflict must protect civilians during military action and uphold International Humanitarian Law. This means ensuring the unconditional release of all remaining hostages held captive by Hamas, and the protection of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, such as hospitals and schools.

The UK must stop selling arms to Israel

The UK sells millions of pounds worth of arms to Israel. The UK government is complicit in this catastrophe until it stops fuelling the conflict with arms and military support. Stopping arms sales is an important step towards securing the permanent ceasefire that people desperately need.

Israel must take all measures within its power to prevent the risk of genocide

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and ordered Israel to:

  • Take all measures within its power to prevent the risk of genocidal acts.
  • Make sure aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza.

The international community also has a responsibility under international law to act swiftly to prevent any actions that could contribute to genocide.

Devastation in Gaza. Photo: Fady Hanona

How can you help Gaza?

Here are a few ways you can act in solidarity and make your voice heard.

Find out more