Gaza Hospitals Struggle Amidst Intense Fighting

The hospitals and medical facilities in Gaza City have become caught in the crossfire of the Israel-Hamas war, causing dire consequences for both patients and medical staff. With the focus primarily on Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, it is estimated that approximately 2,300 individuals are still trapped inside due to battles raging in the surrounding streets. Other health facilities in the region are reporting similar situations, with limited supplies, power outages, and constant threats to life. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that since the start of the conflict on October 7th, 36 health facilities, including 22 hospitals, have been damaged, leaving only a few operational.

The situation inside Al-Shifa has been described as “dire and perilous” by the WHO. The hospital, with 700 beds, has ceased functioning due to the intense fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces in the vicinity. Critical infrastructure has been severely damaged, making it impossible for staff to leave without risking injury or death. Reports from inside the hospital reveal a shortage of food, fuel for generators, and communication blackouts. Doctors Without Borders charity and other organizations have been unable to contact their members inside the hospital, causing further concern about the well-being of those trapped.

The situation is especially dire for newborn babies in need of critical care. There have been reports of infants dying due to a lack of incubators, and surviving babies are at serious risk of death without immediate intervention. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has expressed its intention to evacuate these babies to a safer hospital; however, no evacuation has taken place yet. Hospital staff have explained that sophisticated equipment is required to safely move the babies, but there is no “safer hospital” within Gaza.

The deteriorating conditions inside the hospitals pose additional risks, such as the spread of diseases due to the lack of sanitation and the inability to refrigerate dead bodies. Attempts to bury the deceased have been hindered by ongoing fighting around the hospital, and the morgue’s refrigerator has failed due to power outages. The courtyard of the hospital now holds approximately 100 unburied bodies. Israel claims that there is a Hamas command center located beneath Al-Shifa and has provided evidence in the form of a 3-D representation of tunnels and alleged conversations among Hamas fighters. However, Hamas denies these claims, and doctors inside the hospital insist that there is no Hamas presence.

Other hospitals in Gaza have faced similar challenges. The second-largest hospital, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, is no longer operational due to depleted fuel and power outages. Medical staff are struggling to provide care amidst dire humanitarian conditions, including shortages of medical supplies, food, and water. The Rantisi Specialized Hospital for Children and the Al-Nasr hospital were evacuated, leaving only a few patients and staff behind. Rantisi, known for its pediatric cancer ward, had to transfer its patients to the overwhelmed Al-Shifa hospital.

The situation in Gaza’s hospitals highlights the urgent need for humanitarian assistance. The bombing and fighting have created a crisis where medical care is severely compromised, endangering the lives of patients and medical staff. International organizations must step in to provide resources, medical supplies, and support for the affected hospitals. Additionally, a ceasefire is needed to ensure safe evacuation and access to critical healthcare services. The international community must prioritize finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict to prevent further harm to civilians and medical facilities.