Summer heat brings new misery to Palestinians in Israel's Gaza campaign

By Mohammad Salem

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Sweltering summer weather is worsening conditions in Gaza where nearly all the 2.3 million inhabitants have been driven from their homes by Israel's military campaign and where there is almost no electricity and little clean water.

Families living in tents, in crowded shelters in U.N. schools or crammed into private homes, face the rising summer temperatures without air condition, showers or a functioning health system amid rising rates of malnutrition and disease.

In a school classroom shared as a shelter among different families in Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, Amal Nsair, 38, is worried that the rising heat and humidity and the increase in mosquitoes and other insects will harm their health.

Her son cannot sleep and she has nothing to cool him except a fan made from cardboard. The family's home was in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza Strip, which they fled earlier in the conflict.

"My son's body is full of heat. In the past I would wash him but I need water. I'm very worried about my husband's health too. He has lost half his weight from carrying water," she said.

Temperatures in Gaza this week are forecast above 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and recent years have brought a series of lethal heatwaves across the Mediterranean as the summer advances.

Gaza's electricity was largely provided from Israel, but this was cut off as soon as the war began along with fuel for the territory's only power station. Diesel to supply private generators was largely exhausted soon afterwards.

The war began when the militant Palestinian group Hamas sent fighters across the border from Gaza on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 253 hostages according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's military campaign began the same day and has levelled swathes of the enclave, destroying most infrastructure, and killing more than 37,600 Palestinians according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

"Insects and mosquitoes are biting us all night long. I don’t sleep so that I can apply cream on my child, any kind of ointment or cream so he does not get bitten by the mosquitoes. They are scratching all night," said Nsair.

(Reporting by Mohammad Salem; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams)