Data on the situation in Palestine

Last updated on 10/06/2024

Before October 7, 80% of Gaza’s total population relied on international aid.

By June 19, 2024, 37 396 people had been confirmed killed in the Gaza Strip, with an estimated total death toll of 186.000 people or 8% of the population in Gaza.

1.7 million people are internally displaced (74% of the population), with 1.2 million people sheltering in Rafah, half of them children.

Over 60% of housing units in the Gaza Strip have been damaged by the Israeli forces' attacks, and 70,000 housing units have been destroyed.

625.000 children are out of school, with at least 346 schools being destroyed or damaged.

The average number of people in shelters reached 2.5 times of their capacity. 

Since October 7, there have been 800 attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, including the killing of 31 Palestinians and the injury of about 500.

1.1. million people (48% of the population) face famine and catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

There are about 9300 Palestinian political prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons.

Persons with disabilities

Before October 7, 58000 Palestinians with disabilities had been identified, with the number doubling from 2007 to 2017.*

12% of children had one or more disabilities in 2020, with more than 1,000 acquiring one since October, and 10 to 12 children undergoing amputations daily.* 

At least 5,000 out of the 79,562 people injured were persons with disabilities.

People with disabilities are estimated to constitute more than 15% of the displaced population.

Of the 36 hospitals in Gaza, only 4 were not damaged, raided by Israeli forces or gone out of service.

Women with disabilities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are 4 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than other women.

*Disability activists and organisations believe the prevalence of disability before the war is higher.


Challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Gaza

 

Evacuation and displacement

  • Evacuation warnings are often not provided, and when they do, they are not accessible or are provided some minutes in advance, not providing enough time to evacuate persons with mobility difficulties.
  • Reduced or lack of ability to evacuate, reliance on carers or family members to carry them or having to leave them behind, as well as mobility difficulties through the rubble and destruction in the streets, impossible for some persons with high-support needs.
  • Absence of interpreters for deaf people and additional safety risks due to not being able to communicate, creating isolation, and not being able to hear sound warnings or know where to run.
  • Forced displacement led to persons with disabilities living in overcrowded and inaccessible conditions, with some people being displaced multiple times.
  • Some persons with disabilities were detained by Israeli forces, with reports of detainees facing degrading conditions, abuse, denied access to lawyers and medical care, and their location being withheld. 

Humanitarian aid and access to essentials

  • Lack of accessible safe areas, such as shelters, toilets and other essential facilities. Squat toilets are common, which are inaccessible to persons with mobility difficulties. 
  • Lack of accessible information in evacuation orders and on the location of safe areas and how to access humanitarian aid, with internet disruptions making it harder to find information in accessible forms.
  • Persons with disabilities who are caretakers, such as with visual disabilities, struggle to dislocate to unknown areas and to access essential needs for their families, with many as single caretakers having no other option than risking their lives to find essential items.
  • Informational, communicational and physical barriers to get to aid distribution points for food, safe water and other essential assistance.
  • Standing hours in line to receive aid and changes in routine can be difficult or impossible for autistic people or for people with intellectual disabilities. 
  • There is no comprehensive information on the total number of people with disabilities and their location in Gaza, making humanitarian responders unable to reach them or provide for their needs.
  • There has been reports of attacks targeting humanitarian convoys and civilians seeking aid such as the 'Flour Massacre' in February 2024, with persons with disabilities not being able to easily and quickly escape in these cases.

Access to medical and disability care

  • Lack of access to medical care and life-saving medication, such as medication for diabetes, nutritional supplements, cardiovascular conditions or anti-epileptics. Anaesthesia is also absent or low, leading to people undergoing surgical procedures such as amputations, including children, without it. 
  • The targeting of hospitals and denial of access to healthcare facilities by Israeli soldiers especially affects persons with disabilities, older persons and pregnant women. 
  • Disability organizations and services are not being able to operate during the war, and many of them have been targeted, including specialised facilities for persons with disabilities such as Sheikh Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation, the Assistive Devices Center of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, and many others.

Assistive devices and disability specific needs

  • Persons with disabilities’ needs, essential items and specific measures are usually not included in the humanitarian aid interventions, making it harder or sometimes impossible to access average aid.
  • The Israeli blockade on the entry of essential humanitarian aid, such as fuel, food, water, medicine and others, makes necessities even more difficult to access.
  • Lack of access to assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids and batteries, due to the Israeli forces not allowing these and other essential assistive devices to enter Gaza through humanitarian aid.
  • Some persons with disabilities had their medical or assistive devices destroyed during Israeli strikes or had to leave them behind during the evacuation, which was already difficult to access due to Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods before Oct 7. 
  • Inability to use equipment powered by electricity due to the cut of electricity, such as elevators, food-grinding equipment or mobility scooters.
  • Israeli attacks targeted emergency warehouses set up as part of humanitarian response plans for serving people with disabilities, with the majority of these being destroyed.

Women and girls with disabilities

  • Women and girls with disabilities face heightened vulnerability to sexual assault, sexually transmitted infections, and forced healthcare practices, such as abortion, because of limited access to sexual and reproductive health. There were reports of sexual violence in overcrowded shelters and during detainment. 
  • Pregnant women are struggling to access healthcare facilities, with many giving birth without anaesthetics or other needed medications.

Violations of international law

Israeli military operations are in violation of Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that obliges all state parties “to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies, and the occurrence of natural disasters” and violate Security Council Resolution No. 2475 (2019) where the Security Council unanimously agrees for “Member States and parties to armed conflict to protect persons with disabilities in conflict situations and to ensure they have access to justice, basic services, and unimpeded humanitarian assistance.”

A recent report by QADER for Community Development identified 13 breaches of international humanitarian law, 18 types of war crimes during the aggression on Gaza, 10 types of crimes against humanity in the Strip and 4 types of genocide crimes. 


How can you help?

  • Advocate with your government and representatives for your country to recognise the State of Palestine. As of June 2024, the State of Palestine is recognized as a sovereign state by 144 of the 193 member states of the United Nations.
  • Contact your governmental representatives to demand action and vote for representatives who intend to support a cease fire. International pressure to allow humanitarian aid to enter freely and safely, including disability essentials, is urgent.  
  • Use this page information to write an essay for your local or national newspaper asking for the support of people with disabilities in Palestine and the end of the occupation and aggression. 
  • Humanitarian aid organisations need to ensure the development and implementation of inclusive aid measures to ensure it is accessible and considerate of the needs of persons with disabilities. 
  • Ask for your University to disclose and divest their investments in companies and organisations linked to Israel and associated or supporting the war in Gaza. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has a list of companies that are profiting out of the genocide in Gaza, and you can use that list to stop consuming their products or services.
  • Donate to Operation Olive Branch, Crips for eSims for Gaza or World Federation of the Deaf.
  • If you are aware or have any evidence of war crimes, please submit the evidence to the International Criminal Court. Videos and images shared through social media by soldiers can be submitted as evidence. 
  • If you are a disability advocate or organisation attending Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP), and you will have opportunities to speak, please advocate for persons with disabilities in Palestine. You can share any intervention with #CRPD4Palestine.
  • Develop accessible information and protests for people with disabilities to be able to participate in advocating on this topic, such as these Easy-Read guides on the situation in Palestine

References

Since October 7

Before October 7

 


Statements by Disability Organisations and advocates


Resources

Image of ACAPS thematic report front page
ACAPS Thematic report - Palestine Impact of the conflict on people with disabilities in the Gaza Strip (14 February 2024)
PDF – 501.3 KB 63 downloads


Media