Big Issues

A View Of Gaza From A Charity Worker In The West Bank


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The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas has resulted in thousands of casualties. Hamas killed 1400 Israelis on October 7 and wounded 3500. Israel’s retaliatory assault on Gaza has killed at least 3785 Palestinians and at least 13,000 are wounded, at the time of reporting. Israel is widely considered (including in reports from the UN) to unlawfully occupy Palestinian territories in various forms, including the Gaza Strip. For more context on this history, head here.

We spoke to Wisam Shweiki, Head of Programmes at ActionAid Palestine, who is currently stationed in the West Bank, about how the situation in Gaza looks from his vantage point.

Junkee: What are the challenges in trying to address this situation in Gaza?  

Wisam Shweiki: Addressing the situation in Gaza presents an immense challenge. The ongoing bombardment creates a volatile and perilous environment, impacting communication with our teams, partners, and volunteers due to communication challenges and frequent electricity blackouts. Humanitarian workers on the ground have limited mobility, and their safety and that of their families are paramount. Access to those in need is severely restricted, with critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water supply facilities severely damaged. The immense displacement of civilians further strains already scarce resources, leaving many without access to basic necessities like food, water, and electricity, while local stocks are running out. Rumours and contradictory information only add to the complexity and confusion of the situation. This dire situation demands a coordinated international response to provide essential relief needs.

What are you seeing and hearing about what’s happening? 

Our observations of the current situation in Gaza induce deep concern. We are confronted with a severe humanitarian crisis characterised by a distressing number of casualties, including a substantial proportion of civilians. The healthcare system is under immense strain, teetering on the brink of collapse, and the delivery of essential services, such as access to water and electricity, is alarmingly deficient. Innocent people, with children and women most severely affected, are enduring the heaviest burden of this conflict. What we are witnessing is particularly distressing concerning healthcare. Of the 23 hospitals in Gaza, almost all are struggling with operational challenges due to severe shortages of water, electricity, Fuel and critical medical supplies. Access to clean drinking water is falling far below acceptable humanitarian standards, posing a significant risk of dehydration, cholera with children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the injured being particularly vulnerable. The deteriorating hygiene conditions increase the risk of widespread infectious diseases. The dire humanitarian conditions have forced some families to move from the south to the north in a desperate search for improved living conditions.

What has to happen to improve the situation? 

To significantly improve the situation in Gaza, it is imperative to implement an immediate ceasefire, ending the aggression that has wrought immense suffering. Following this crucial step, it is essential to grant unrestricted access to humanitarian aid and organisations, enabling them to provide critical aid and medical assistance. Such access is vital as it allows these organisations to swiftly deliver life-saving supplies, offer medical care to the injured, and ensure the protection of the most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses who are particularly at-risk during struggles.

What can people do to help? 

In one sentence: empowering global support. Individuals, social movements, non-governmental organisations, and activists worldwide possess the means to exercise significant influence in mitigating this urgent situation. Their collective voices are instrumental in compelling their respective governments to apply diplomatic pressure aimed at finishing this catastrophic situation and ensuring accountability for those responsible. Concurrently, extending financial support to established humanitarian organisations like ActionAid is paramount. The funds donated play a pivotal role in the provision of emergency relief, medical assistance, fuel, and shelter to the crisis-affected population. Furthermore, raising awareness and advocating for a just resolution to the ongoing struggle.

How can ActionAid ensure these funds make it to the people of Gaza? 

ActionAid is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that funds effectively reach the people of Gaza. To achieve this, we have established strong partnerships with local organisations that possess an in-depth understanding of the context and the qualified staff. These partnerships facilitate the direct channeling of resources to those in need. Furthermore, our due diligence approach and comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems meticulously track the impact of our programs, ensuring they remain responsive to the evolving needs of the affected population. Equally critical are our stringent financial and procurement processes, which adhere to the highest standards, preserving transparency and accountability. By combining local expertise, strong oversight, and financial trial, we affirm our dedication to directing support precisely where it is most urgently required in Gaza, supporting recovery and relief efforts with the utmost efficiency.

Charities Trying To Help In Gaza

Note: Before donating your money, be sure to properly vet a charity for possible scams and make sure you’re comfortable with where the charity says your money is going and what their ongoing involvement in the crisis is.

Anglican Overseas Aid

Act For Peace


Australian Lutheran World Service

Caritas Australia

Oxfam Australia

Save The Children


Doctors Without Borders

International Committee of the Red Cross

International Rescue Committee

Middle East Children’s Alliance

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

United Nations Relief and Works Agency


Editor’s note: Since this interview was undertaken, the UN and Egypt have made a potential agreement for some aid to get through to Gaza.

Image credit: AAP