The harrowing journey of an aid worker in Gaza

In a gripping eyewitness account, Jake Morland, an aid worker with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), shares the appalling conditions and challenges faced by paramedics attempting to transfer patients in Gaza. Last Saturday, a convoy consisting of six ambulances and a truck set off from southern Gaza to deliver much-needed medical supplies to al-Ahli Hospital in the north. However, they encountered obstacles and mistreatment along the way, highlighting the dangerous and dehumanizing circumstances that humanitarian personnel face in conflict zones.

At the IDF checkpoint in Wadi Gaza, the aid workers were met with Israeli soldiers aiming their machine guns at them. Two Palestinian paramedics were even detained for questioning, with one subjected to strip-searching. This mistreatment, despite prior coordination with the IDF regarding the convoy’s mission, underscores the need for a more respectful and cooperative approach towards humanitarian efforts.

As the convoy proceeded towards its destination, they encountered unexploded ordnance and came under fire, putting their lives at risk. The return journey was equally challenging. The aid workers were held up at the checkpoint for over two hours, even though they were transporting critically injured patients who required urgent medical attention. Children and the wounded were forced out of the ambulance and subjected to profiling by the IDF. Despite their desperate pleas for access, delays caused by the IDF may have contributed to the death of one of the patients.

These allegations were presented to the IDF, who claimed that the paramedic was detained due to suspected links to terrorism. They also stated that they encouraged the rest of the convoy to continue their journey. However, three of the six ambulances chose to remain with the detainee, highlighting the dedication and loyalty of the aid workers towards their colleagues.

The eyewitness account by Morland not only sheds light on the challenges faced by aid workers at the hands of the IDF but also highlights the dire situation within al-Ahli Hospital. The hospital, which typically has 80 beds, is currently overwhelmed with over 200 patients. The medical staff is now faced with life-threatening and gruesome wounds caused by the ongoing conflict.

In response to these distressing circumstances, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement, emphasizing the need for the protection of healthcare and humanitarian aid workers. It is crucial that these individuals are able to carry out their duties without fear of mistreatment or harm.

This account serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact of the Israel-Gaza war on the people of Gaza and the challenging conditions faced by aid workers in providing essential care. It calls for greater awareness and support for the humanitarian efforts in conflict zones, as well as the pursuit of diplomatic initiatives to bring about a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.