Medics Aim to Screen Thousands of Gaza Children for Malnutrition

 A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Deir Al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Deir Al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Medics Aim to Screen Thousands of Gaza Children for Malnutrition

 A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Deir Al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
A malnourished Palestinian boy receives treatment at the International Medical Corps field hospital, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Deir Al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Medics in Gaza said on Monday they were working to step up screening of young children for severe malnutrition amid fears that hunger is spreading as people flee to new areas.

Aid group International Medical Corps (IMC) and partners are planning to reach more than 200,000 children under five-years-old as part of a "Find and Treat" campaign, one of its doctors, Munawwar Said, told Reuters by phone.

"With the displacement, communities are settling in new locations that do not have access to clean water, or there is not adequate access to food," he said. "We fear there are more cases being missed."

Over the weekend, families were already coming into an IMC clinic in the central city of Deir al-Balah, opened after the agency said it had to shut down two centers in the southern city of Rafah due to insecurity.

Five-year-old Jana Ayad had weighed just 9 kilograms when she arrived, suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, Nutrition Officer Raghda Ibrahim Qeshta told Reuters as she carefully held the child.

"My daughter was dying in front of me," said Nasma Ayad as she sat next to the bed. "I didn't know what to do."

Jana had started putting on some weight after treatment, medics said, but she was still painfully thin with her ribs showing as she lay listlessly in her bunny pyjamas.

Staff can gauge nutrition levels by measuring the circumference of children's arms. During a Reuters cameraman's short visit at least two of the measurements were in the yellow band, indicating a risk of malnutrition. IMC data so far shows the most vulnerable are babies and infants up to two-years-old.

A group of UN-led aid agencies estimates that around 7% of Gazan children may be acutely malnourished, compared with 0.8% before the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Oct. 7.

Until now the worst of severe hunger has been in the north, with a UN-backed report warning of imminent famine in March.

But aid workers worry it could spread to central and southern areas due to the upheaval around Rafah that has displaced more than 1 million people and constrained supply flows through southern corridors.

Israel launched its military operation in Gaza after Hamas-led fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

It says it has expanded efforts to facilitate aid flows into Gaza and blames international aid agencies for distribution problems inside the enclave.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.