The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has worsened significantly since March 2006, especially since the massive Israeli offensive that began in late July, stated John Dugard, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur.
According to the Human Rights Council, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, including 18 children, and almost 400 have been injured, including 108 children.
The Rapporteur has called for an independent inquiry to be made to determine whether or not the attack on Gaza’s only electricity power station was a war crime.
Since the Israeli offensive, 80% of Palestinians in Gaza have been without electricity. Poverty rates have risen to 75%, and locals are experiencing a severe shortage of water, consequently affecting sewage disposal, and tens of thousands of households.
Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi, Palestinian independent legislator, fears that the paralysis of the sewage system in Gaza could result in a serious public health disaster.
The Rapporteur has already stated indications of such a situation. "There are reports of sewage leakage, as well as a reduction in municipal waste collection and disposal. Reported cases of diarrhea have increased by 163% compared to the same period last year. It is possible that communicable diseases, like cholera and poliomyelitis, will re-emerge. Reduced hospital services are dependent upon generators that are unsuitable for constant, long-term use," the Rapporteur said.
The concern over war crimes has also been expressed by Senior UN official, Louise Arbor, mentioning civilian deaths in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Israel and Lebanon.