Charities have warned of mass deaths in Gaza from deteriorating conditions, as the full scale of the rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis unfolding in the world’s most densely populated quarter reveals itself.
Lack of medicine, anaesthesia, disinfectant, food, water and electricity, which have all been cut by Israel, are contributing to higher mortality rates among the sick and injured.
Since the attack by Hamas on October 7, more than 4,000 Palestinians have been killed, including about 1,500 children from the constant bombardment by Israel in reprisal. Over 12,000 people have been injured, a third children, with an estimated half-a-million Palestinians displaced from their homes.
Hospitals are struggling with bed overcapacity of 150 per cent with patients lying on the ground or ward corridors, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
The hospitals themselves have been subjected to bombings and numerous, including one with 12,000 residents sheltering in its grounds, have been warned to evacuate by the Israeli Defence Forces.
This is AL-Quds #Hospital that is facing threats of bombardment and demands for the evacuation of 12,000 citizens who sought refuge in this place for safety.#NotATarget #Gaza_under_attack_now pic.twitter.com/jCbV9dVObP
— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) October 20, 2023
“There are no stocks of medicines, medical consumables, and fuel in hospitals,” a Ministry of Health spokesman said.
“The Ministry of Health is focusing its energies on continuing to provide primary care services in 18 health centres.”
Doctors have resorted to using vinegar on wounds and performing surgery on citizens without anaesthesia, often by the light of mobile phone cameras.
Surgery in the dark. The reality of Hospitals for Palestinians with no electricity or fuel. Israel has turned Gaza into a concentration camp. pic.twitter.com/CFSuwLrDnJ
— The Barracks (@thebarrackslive) October 20, 2023
“Blood banks have only two weeks’ worth of supply left,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, the World Health Organisation’s Occupied Palestine representative.
Staff from Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) have reported painkillers have run out and that wounded and sick patients are screaming in pain while they also face the ongoing threat of bombardment.
Most recently, a strike at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital car park in Gaza City, killed more than 470 civilians, although the source of the explosive has been disputed by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership, as well as various factchecking organisations.
“The strike against Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is an atrocity. We are equally outraged by the deadly strike on the same day on an UNRWA school located in Al Maghazi refugee camp that sheltered some 4000 displaced people, as well as two densely populated refugee camps,” the United Nations said.
https://t.co/8gAKfOubtz performed a Doppler Effect analysis from two videos from the missile attack on the Al-Ahli hospital. The results cast doubt on the IDF’s claim that the missile that hit the hospital approached from the south-west. #AlAhli #IDF 1/7 pic.twitter.com/eDz9emxz6H
— earshot.ngo (@earshot_ngo) October 20, 2023
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has documented more than 136 attacks on health care services in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s offensive began.
UNICEF said in the first 11 days of aerial attacks on Gaza, over 300,000 children were displaced from their homes.
“The ongoing surge of conflict-related violence continues to take horrendous toll on the lives of children and their families in Israel and the state of Palestine,” said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder.
“Nothing justifies the killing, maiming or abduction of children.”
A civilian account of conditions on the ground, released by the United Nations, said: “Despite the severely cramped living conditions and rationing of food and water, we feel we are among the privileged because some water is still running through the tap, thanks to solar system that enables the water pump to operate a bit.
“I have come to the conclusion that with death looming everywhere, it may be better to die in our own home, together with those we love.”
Reuters reported many families had resorted to drilling private wells drawing from water deep underground.
As of Saturday, 20 aid trucks had been allowed to enter the Gaza strip through the Rafah crossing, carrying medicine and food supplies.
Main image screenshot.