The medical situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The hospitals are on the verge of collapse and doctors lack what they need to save lives. According to the WHO, only a third of the clinics are still in operation.
Dozens of injured women, children and men lie on the floor in the crowded corridors of Gaza’s hospitals. Family members lean over motionless bodies, holding hands or trying to comfort children. In addition, doctors are fighting for the lives of other wounded people. Videos and photos document the desperate scenes. There are also recordings circulating of doctors operating in the semi-darkness using only the light of flashlights.
“The situation in Al-Ahli Hospital is catastrophic,” said doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta on Sunday. “Today I performed more than ten very painful surgical procedures on people without anesthesia.” There are no more blood supplies either. Al-Ahli Hospital is the only hospital in the city of Gaza that is still operational. He previously worked at the Shifa Hospital, the largest clinic in the coastal strip. Operations had to be stopped there at the weekend.
Clinics in Gaza increasingly in focus of fighting: medical care before collapse
The medical facilities in the Gaza Strip have recently become increasingly the focus of the fighting. Israel’s army accuses the terrorist organization Hamas of deliberately abusing it for military purposes. It is alleged that Hamas’ command and operations center is located beneath the Shifa Hospital. Local people fear that the building could soon be subject to a large-scale Israeli operation.
According to eyewitnesses, there are around 10,000 people in the hospital, including injured people who cannot be transported, medical staff and those seeking protection. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that it has completely lost contact with the hospital. With 700 beds, the hospital was the most important clinical complex in the Gaza Strip.
Contacting the hospital’s director, Mohammad Abu Salamia, shows how difficult it is to talk to people from the hospital. After around 20 calls, a long time later an SMS arrives as a sign of life. “The shelling outside the hospital continues,” he writes. He doesn’t know what exactly is happening outside. “But we hear shells and explosions near the hospital.” He says 40 children are in critical condition and could die at any moment.
WHO: Only a third of hospitals are still in operation
The situation in the clinics throughout the Gaza Strip that were already working on the attack has worsened dramatically in recent days. According to the WHO, almost a third of the hospitals are still in use due to the heavy bombing. There is a lack of fuel, food and medical supplies. According to the aid organization, a Doctors Without Borders nurse wrote from the basement of Shifa Hospital: “We are being killed here, please do something.”
Israeli troops had advanced into the heart of the city a few days ago. Eyewitnesses reported continued shelling, including at hospitals. Israel’s military, on the other hand, speaks of fighting with Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, and accuses it of deliberately positioning itself near hospitals. Civilians were again urged to flee to the south.
For the first time, the army also opened an escape route between Shifa Hospital and the main road to the south. In addition, the military says it should help babies in the children’s ward get “to a safer hospital.” The hospital staff is said to have asked for this. This could not currently be independently verified. However, according to eyewitnesses, thousands from the north made their way south again.
But escape is not possible for everyone. “We’re talking about patients who are extremely difficult to move. People in intensive care, people on life support machines, babies who need oxygen,” Red Cross spokeswoman Alyona Synenko told US broadcaster CNN.
It’s not just the situation in Shifa Hospital that is dramatic. Other hospitals are also in a desperate situation “without electricity, food, water”. It is “difficult to imagine what the doctors who work in the hospitals in the city of Gaza are going through at the moment – those who are still there,” the spokeswoman said. Every doctor, even in the south, is under enormous pressure. “Nowhere in Gaza is safe today.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.