ALEXANDRIA, Va – Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:
Islamic Relief staff in Gaza are warning that there is nowhere safe as civilians and aid workers continue to come under attack. Time is running out to get aid in to save lives and a ceasefire is urgently needed.
Around 1 million people are now displaced within Gaza, with many fleeing their homes after Israel ordered civilians to leave the north and go to the south. But heavy bombing continued in the south overnight, killing dozens more people and reportedly trapping hundreds under rubble. Children are again among the dead, with more than one thousand children reported killed so far.
An Islamic Relief aid worker in Gaza, whose name is withheld for his safety, says:
“Last night was terrible. There were attacks everywhere and nobody could sleep. People are still trapped and buried alive under the rubble.
“Food and water are running out and we fear people will starve unless aid is allowed in soon. This is a humanitarian catastrophe that is getting worse every minute.
“There is nowhere safe for civilians in Gaza. People went south because of Israel’s order but there is no shelter, no food, no water and the bombs are still falling. The bombing must stop or more civilians, including many children, will continue to die while the world watches. We feel like the international community has abandoned us.”
The bombing has destroyed and damaged masses of civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, churches, water systems and shelters for displaced families.
Hospitals and health facilities have come under constant attack. At least 24 hospitals and health facilities and 22 ambulances have been hit and damaged by the bombing, and many medical staff are among at least 30 humanitarian workers who have been killed so far.
The siege of Gaza means that many hospitals now only have a day of reserve fuel left – after which generators will switch off and many patients may die. Thousands of lives are at risk including pregnant women, newborn children, dialysis patients and people injured by the current bombing. Hospitals are also running out of essential medical supplies and medical teams cannot keep up as more casualties arrive constantly.
While negotiations to get aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing are ongoing, any agreement will only be effective if the bombing stops. Yet some of the heaviest bombing in the past 24 hours has been around Rafah, as well as Khan Younis and Deir el-Balah.
Despite reports that water supplies have been switched back on, most people remain without access to safe water. Water wells, pumping stations and a desalination plant serving more than 1 million people have all been badly damaged, according to the UN. Islamic Relief’s team on the ground reports that some people are resorting to drinking unsafe water from agricultural wells, leading to growing fears of outbreaks of water-borne diseases.
Islamic Relief is calling for international law to be upheld. All parties have a duty to protect civilians from harm, avoid targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, places of worship and humanitarian facilities, and ensure that civilians have access to basic necessities such as water, food and power. At the moment that duty is clearly not being met.
According to the UN, bombs have hit at least 164 educational facilities – including some being used as shelters – and 18 mosques and churches.
Despite the extremely dangerous situation, relief teams have distributed supplies to hospitals wherever possible – as well as food packs to displaced families – but more is desperately needed.
Syed M. Hassan
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)
Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.
Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.