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Israel/Gaza Crisis: Americares is responding

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Israel Gaza Crisis

Active Emergency (Photo: Ibrahim Zaanoun/Anera)
October 7, 2023

The Situation

Since Israel was violently attacked across the border from Gaza on October 7 and the ongoing hostilities escalated, tens of thousands of people have been reported killed or injured in Gaza and Israel, and the toll continues to rise with nearly 1.9 million people displaced in Gaza – nearly 80 percent of the the population. Some shelters for internally displaced persons are accommodating far more people than their intended capacity, increasing concerns about the spread of disease. Nearly 300 health workers and more than 130 staff of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East have been killed.

Eight weeks into the crisis, a humanitarian pause which began on November 24 led to a release of some of the more than 200 people held hostage and the release of a number of Palestinian detainees. In Israel, hundreds of thousands of people residing near the Gaza Strip, as well as along the border with Lebanon, have either fled or been evacuated. For the latest update on the situation, read the most recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The escalation has created a major humanitarian crisis with health and other essential services including power and sanitation shutting down and food and water supplies nearly exhausted. The health care system in Gaza remains near collapse with hospitals and health centers damaged and running out of fuel and supplies, severely limiting their capacity to treat the sick and injured. More than half of the hospitals in Gaza were not operating, according to the World Health Organization. The humanitarian pause from Nov. 24-30 allowed for an increase in aid trucks granted access to Gaza. Despite the increase in supplies entering Gaza, the volume of incoming aid did not meet the extensive needs.

We call on all parties to protect civilians. Hospitals should not be targeted, civilians should have access to safe spaces away from the fighting and the humanitarian corridor should be expanded to allow more food, medicine, and other essentials to enter Gaza.

We support a ceasefire. The temporary ceasefire in late November allowed more aid to enter Gaza, but the amount was still not enough to meet the need or ensure the long-term safety of civilians, health workers and aid workers in Gaza. With the resumption of hostilities, the humanitarian crisis once again grows more acute. The World Health Organization in a Dec. 4 statement called for “every possible measure” to be taken to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, adding that the “only viable solution is a sustained ceasefire.”

Our Response

Americares continues to be devastated by the catastrophic loss of life and widespread injury caused by the violent and destructive war in Israel and Gaza. Our hearts go out to all those affected during this extremely difficult time. We stand in support of all people impacted by the war.

How do we decide who to help?

We believe that health is a human right. And as the humanitarian crisis worsens, we are committed to providing support in both Israel and Gaza to meet the health needs of those affected by the crisis. Americares follows humanitarian principles and gives priority to the most urgent cases irrespective of race, nationality, geography, gender, religious belief, political opinion or class. We always ensure the support we provide is neutral, impartial and the right match for the local needs. 

Interior of damaged home with child rocking horse, stuffed bear and an Israeli flag in the midst of much debris.
A deserted house at a kibbutz in Israel that was attacked near the border with Gaza (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

How is Americares responding?

We are working with partner organizations with staff on the ground in Israel and Gaza to increase access to medicine, medical supplies and mental health support for frontline health care providers and survivors.

In Gaza we are providing medicine and medical supplies as well as mental health support for staff of longtime partner organization Anera.

  • Intravenous solutions, syringes, bandages, catheters and stents funded by Americares, arrived in Gaza on Nov. 3.
  • An Americares shipment of essential medicines and medical supplies arrived in Gaza on Nov. 28. The shipment, designed to treat a population of 100,000 people for three months, includes 6 tons of desperately needed surgical supplies, bandages, antibiotics, oral rehydration salts and labor and delivery supplies. A second major Americares shipment with 6 tons of essential medicines and medical supplies is currently in transit to Gaza. Additional shipments are expected to follow.
  • Americares has a logistics expert in Egypt participating in coordination meetings and facilitating shipments to Gaza.
  • Americares is funding mental health support for Anera staff in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan over the next year to help aid workers cope with stress and trauma. The project will provide both individual and group counseling sessions as well as training for managers supporting employees.
A shipment in net and loading platform awaits load into cargo plane with tail of plane and part of cargo door visible.
An Americares shipment to Gaza containing 6 tons of desperately needed surgical supplies, bandages, antibiotics, oral rehydration salts and labor and delivery supplies. (Photo/Anera)

In Israel, Americares is working with multiple organizations to meet the physical and mental health needs of those affected by the crisis.

  • We are providing funding to Friends of United Hatzalah to support volunteer emergency medical technicians, paramedics and physicians assisting people injured or displaced by the war. The funding will be used to resupply United Hatzalah volunteer emergency medical personnel working in southern Israel with trauma kits, defibrillators and medic bags, as well as essential humanitarian aid supplies for volunteers and those displaced by the war.
  • Americares is providing funding to HIAS, a global Jewish humanitarian organization focused on protecting refugees, to support a mental health hotline in Israel and distribute household supplies and baby care items to a displaced Eritrean community fleeing the attacks in southern Israel.
  • Americares is also providing funding to IsraAID, a non-governmental organization that responds to emergencies and humanitarian crises, to provide mental health support and child-friendly spaces for populations displaced within Israel due to the hostilities.

“The situation is absolutely dire—tens of thousands of families need food, clean water and shelter—and hospitals are running out of fuel. Our support will help health facilities continue operating and providing essential health services to children and adults most impacted by this crisis,” said Americares Deputy Senior Vice President of Emergency Programs Provash Budden.

The immediate impact and fallout of this war is causing immeasurable damage to the mental and physical health of people in this region. We know the longer the war goes on, the more support will be needed for survivors and frontline responders. Americares is in active discussion with partners about how we can do more to help those who have experienced or witnessed horrific violence on the frontlines and the tragic loss of loved ones.

Are you getting aid into Gaza with the blockade? 

Yes. Americares immediately provided emergency funding to a partner organization with staff on the ground in Gaza to purchase the most critically needed medicines. Intravenous solutions, syringes, bandages, catheters and stents funded by Americares, arrived in Gaza on Nov. 3. A major shipment with 6 tons of medicine and medical supplies arrived on Nov. 27.

What does it mean to be a humanitarian organization?

Americares is an impartial humanitarian organization and as such, does not have any political or religious affiliations. It’s our mission to save lives and improve health for people affected by poverty or disaster. Americares believes that health is a human right irrespective of geography. We decide where to provide aid based on health needs, available resources and where we have partnerships with local organizations, including health care providers. Americares follows humanitarian principles and gives priority to the most urgent cases irrespective of race, nationality, gender, religious belief, political opinion or class.