Why women in Gaza Strip are forced to shave their heads

In the midst of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the siege imposed on its people, some Palestinian women in the Strip are forced to shave their heads due to health concerns caused by lack of water for hair washing.

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The Gaza Strip faces severe shortage of water since the Israeli government cut off supplies on October 9, 2023, leading to infrastructure destruction and the seizure of water desalination plants in northern Gaza Strip cities.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported on Sunday, February 4, that Palestinians face limited access to clean water due to Israel’s relentless bombardment in Gaza.

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“I had to shave my head, because I don’t have water to wash my hair,” Nisreen, 49-year-old told Middle East Eye (MEE).

“Shaving the head is a painful decision for any woman, but we are forced to do it.”


In Gaza, not only women, children are also forced to shave their heads and hair to protect them from scalp diseases, as said by Nisreen, a mother of six.



Due to limited water access, Nisreen prioritizes drinking and survival over washing her hair.

Therefore, women in Gaza were forced to shave their heads due to health and skin concerns, genocide conditions, and four-month bombing, as a simple solution to avoid further health issues.

What are the dangers of not washing their hair?

Not washing their hair can lead to diseases like alopecia, scalp ringworm, and bacterial infections, resulting in hair abscesses, general practitioner Zainab Al-Shawaf told MEE.



She explains that hair diseases, such as lice, are caused by insufficient hygiene, lack of essential nutrients, and itching. These conditions lead to lymphadenopathy, pus in the scalp, and hair loss, especially in children.

Israel-Hamas war

War erupted in the Gaza Strip after Hamas’s October 7 surprise attack that killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages, fueled by thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

In response, Israel committed to eliminate Hamas and launched a massive offensive to eliminate the militant group and governance capabilities.



The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has reported over 27,000 Palestinians dead in the ongoing offensive, causing international criticism for its increasing death toll.


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