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All children under five in Gaza are at risk of severe malnutrition and preventable death. (Photo: via Eye on Palestine)

Overcrowding is extreme, with any available space taken up by tents, some of which are home to up to 12 people.

Palestinians trapped in the besieged and heavily bombarded Gaza Strip have resorted to eating grass in an effort to stave off hunger as Israel continues to stifle the delivery of aid to civilians in the enclave, ActionAid has warned.

In addition to the humanitarian situation and lack of food, water and medical care, residents who have already been displaced several times since October 7, now risk being forced out of their shelters once again as Israel looks set to expand its ground offensive into Gaza’s southernmost city Rafah, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians are now living in makeshift tents.

Amid fears of a coming ground invasion in Rafah, ActionAid has warned that any intensification in attacks on the governorate – which is now home to more than half the entire population of Gaza – would have utterly disastrous consequences.    

“There is nowhere left for people in Gaza to flee to. More than 85% of its 2.3 million inhabitants have been forced to leave their homes over the last four months, with many displaced multiple times,” ActionAid said in a statement yesterday. 

“The huge influx of people arriving in Rafah has already put enormous strain on infrastructure and resources, yet people are continuing to arrive in their thousands,” it added.

Overcrowding is extreme, with any available space taken up by tents, some of which are home to up to 12 people. Thousands of people are living crammed into increasingly unsanitary shelters, where hundreds of people share a single toilet.

Eating Grass 

“People are now so desperate that they’re eating grass in a last attempt to stave off hunger,” explained Riham Jafari, advocacy and communications coordinator at ActionAid Palestine.

“Every single person in Gaza is now hungry, and people have just 1.5 to 2 liters of unsafe water per day to meet all their needs,” the aid group added. 

Without enough to eat and without adequate clothing for the cold and rainy weather, people are more susceptible to the diseases and infections which are rapidly spreading through the population, ActionAid said.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of a potential ground invasion in Rafah and increased air strikes on the area. Let us be absolutely clear: any intensification of hostilities in Rafah, where more than 1.4 million people are sheltering, would be absolutely disastrous… Where on earth is Gaza’s exhausted and starving population supposed to go?” Jafari asked.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 27,947 Palestinians have been killed, and 67,459 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.


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