Gaza, 2 November 2023 (TDI): The Israeli government’s recent military actions in Gaza, including bombardment, a blockade, and a major ground offensive, are having a devastating impact on Palestinian civilians with disabilities, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

These individuals face greater challenges when trying to escape attacks and access essential necessities and humanitarian aid.

During a ground offensive in October 2023, Israel ordered civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south.

However, this directive did not adequately consider the needs of people with disabilities, many of whom were unable to leave.

As a result, they were exposed to the dangers of war without proper accommodation or satisfactory conditions.

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People with disabilities in Gaza are encountering significant difficulties in fleeing, finding shelter, and obtaining basic necessities such as water, food, medicine, and assistive devices they urgently require.

This situation is exacerbated by a general lack of assistive devices in Gaza, such as wheelchairs, prostheses, crutches, and hearing aids, primarily due to restrictions resulting from Israel’s 16-year closure of Gaza.

The lack of electricity and internet disruptions in Gaza further complicate matters for individuals with disabilities, hindering their access to crucial information needed to make informed decisions about their safety.

The ongoing Israeli military actions in Gaza were initiated in response to a Hamas-led attack in Israel on October 7, which resulted in significant casualties, including civilians.

The severe restrictions imposed by Israel, including cutting off electricity and water, blocking the entry of essential supplies, and limiting humanitarian aid, are considered by some as collective punishment and a war crime.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported a significant number of casualties, including children, and a substantial displacement of people as a result of the Israeli bombardment.

People with disabilities who were displaced during the hostilities described the challenges they faced when trying to escape attacks and navigate the destruction.

Their fears about the ongoing conflict highlight the urgent need for attention to their safety and well-being.

Human Rights Watch, in its report, calls on the United States and other Israeli allies to press Israel to take all necessary measures to protect people with disabilities and lift the blockade on Gaza.

In conclusion, the situation in Gaza is dire, particularly for people with disabilities who face additional obstacles in accessing aid and ensuring their safety during the ongoing conflict.

Human Rights Watch has highlighted these concerns and called for international action to address this humanitarian crisis.