Diapers and baby formula are hard to find in Gaza, leaving parents desperate



DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Zainab al-Zein was forced to make a desperate decision: Feed her infant daughter solid foods that her tiny body may not be able to digest or watch her starve because of a lack of baby formula in the besieged Gaza Strip.Al-Zein chose to give 2 1/2-month-old Linda solids, knowing the choice could lead to health issues.“I know we are doing something harmful to her, but there is nothing,” said al-Zein, feeding her wailing daughter crushed biscuits in the cold tent they now call home. “She cries and cries continuously.”The war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that has brought shortages of the most basic necessities. Some of the hardest-hit are babies, young children and their parents, with diapers and formula either hard to find or spiking to unaffordable prices, leading parents to look to inadequate or even unsafe alternatives.Their plight is further complicated due to sporadic aid deliveries that have been hobbled by Israeli restrictions and the relentless fighting.Displaced Palestinians are also being squeezed into ever tighter areas of the tiny coastal enclave, prompting the outbreak of illness and disease, to which malnourished children are particularly vulnerable. The U.N. says the population is under imminent risk of famine, with a quarter of people already starving.For Palestinians enduring increasingly dire conditions, the most basic of acts — such as changing a child’s diaper — have become a luxury that can require acrifice.“I sold my children’s food so I can buy diapers,” said Raafat Abu Wardeh, who has two children in diapers.Aid is not reaching everyone, and shortages of basic goods have caused prices to skyrocket. With Gaza’s economy decimated, few Palestinians have regular incomes and most are either depleting their savings or subsisting on handouts.At makeshift street stalls, older children working as hawkers sell individual diapers for three to five shekels ($1 to $1.50) or entire packs for up to 170 shekels ($46). A pack of diapers before the war cost 12 shekels ($3.50).“The prices of diapers are very ridiculous,” said Anis al-Zein, who was buying them along a street in central Deir al-Balah and is not related to Zainab. “A child costs you 20 shekels ($5) a day. Especially in a bad situation like this, all prices are high and there is no income for people. There isn’t even aid.”Some parents are using cloth diapers, but those require washing with water, which is also scarce.The war, triggered by the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas assault on southern Israel, has unleashed unimaginable destruction, with more than 27,000 Palestinians killed and close to 67,000 wounded in Israel’s offensive, according to local health officials.



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