How can we convey the horror of the ongoing drama in the Gaza Strip?
Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed in Gaza said a family member had been killed or injured in the current conflict.
Source: Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
The issue remains a hot topic as civilians in the Palestinian enclave bear the brunt of raids that are as frequent as they are deadly and the humanitarian situation remains catastrophic.
Result of the Israeli response to the massacre perpetrated by Hamas last October: we have crossed the milestone of 27,000 deaths in the Gaza Strip, according to figures from the Ministry of Health of this Palestinian enclave, controlled by Hamas.
But the impact of Israel’s response can also be illustrated in another way, without any link with Hamas’ figures.
Thanks to the results of a survey.
I learned about it while listening to a recent podcast by journalist Ezra Klein, of New York Times1. I had not previously heard anyone mention this study, published last December by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
The statistic cited by the journalist is absolutely startling: 64% of people surveyed in Gaza said a member of their family had been killed or injured during the current conflict.
This represents almost two thirds of the inhabitants of Gaza.
The observation is implacable: one tragedy – that of October 7, 2023 in Israel – was followed by another. Horror responds to horror.
I calculated what such an assessment would represent for a population like that of Quebec. That would mean that if such a bloody conflict took place here, proportionately, more than 5 million residents of the province would report that a member of their family had been killed or injured.
It’s practically inconceivable.
I contacted Marie-Joëlle Zahar, professor of political science at the University of Montreal, in New York to get her opinion.
“The numbers speak for themselves. The statistics are striking,” she said.
The fact that all this is happening while the world is essentially passive is what troubles me the most. That we are capable, after Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, of passively witnessing this kind of thing…
Marie-Joëlle Zahar, professor of political science at the University of Montreal
She also spoke to me about the probity of this study, which “comes from the only polling firm in the entire Arab world that is considered professional and reliable.”
According to the director of the Canadian Observatory on Humanitarian Crises and Action, François Audet, “we are in one of the worst recent crises in the history of humanity in terms of the speed at which this number of victims has been reached for a conflict.”
The tragic human toll is the consequence of “indiscriminate bombings on civilian areas, justified by Israel because they are areas potentially with Hamas members, tunnels, etc. “, he summarized, recalling that among these civilians, there are “children, women, elderly people”.
This will sadly be a scenario, for those who research crisis management, like me, which lamentably exposes the failure of global governance to protect civilian populations in the event of conflict.
François Audet, director of the Canadian Observatory on Humanitarian Crises and Action
Both Marie-Joëlle Zahar and François Audet told me about another statistic that should leave no one indifferent. The one that concerns the displaced in Gaza.
“Of the 2 million Palestinians in the enclave, 1.9 million have been displaced, according to Human Rights Watch and data from the United Nations. This is (more than) 85% of the population,” underlined Mme Zahar.
I end with one last figure linked to the others: that of the cost of reconstruction. It will reach “several tens of billions of dollars, according to a conservative estimate”, recently assessed the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
This is because the Gaza Strip has completely become “uninhabitable”.
A situation which also endangers the lives of residents.
“The health crisis caused by Israel’s attacks could be ultimately more deadly than bombs,” the daily underlined The world on February 2.
Everything suggests that in the current circumstances, the scale of the tragedy will, unfortunately, only increase.
1. Listen to Ezra Klein’s podcast (in English)
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