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Gaza’s medical sector in crisis

As the war on Gaza enters its third consecutive day, hospitals in the Strip are going through a major crisis that began even before the war

As the war on Gaza enters its third consecutive day, hospitals in the Strip are going through a major crisis that began even before the war, when the Health Ministry had announced that it is running out of 25 percent of essential drugs. Now they are facing what could be called a disaster as the martyrs and the injured keep arriving at hospital reception rooms and ERs by the minute. The Israeli aggression, accompanied by an environmental crisis and high pollution rates in Gaza, in addition to increased power outages and the lack of alternatives, prompted medical personnel to declare a state of emergency from the very beginning of the current aggression.

Gaza – Spokesperson of Gaza’s Health Ministry, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, told Al-Akhbar that hospitals are facing the most difficult circumstances they have seen since the previous war, warning that the available drugs and medical supplies are barely enough for the coming two days. He cautioned that hospitals have depleted more than 55 percent of their supplies on all levels because of the serious injuries coming in. He called on Arab countries and international organizations to save Gaza from a major health disaster and to stop the Israeli assault.

Inside hospitals, it is clear that injuries range between critical to moderate. Based on Al-Akhbar’s observations and pictures provided by news agencies, it appears that a large number of martyrs are arriving in pieces and loss of limbs are the dominant form of injury in addition to severe burns.

Dr. Marwan Rashid told Al-Akhbar that 40 percent of the injuries are among children, adding: “most of the children’s injuries are serious given that their bodies cannot withstand the injury. In addition, shortages in children’s drugs exacerbate the effects of injuries because it is not possible to use adult drugs that might cause them serious complications.”

Rachid goes on: “Currently, medical staff are trying to adapt to the small amount of drugs available. Small doses might not be enough for every patient but we cannot provide treatment for each case. That is why we prioritize injuries based on a scale of the most critical to the least critical.”

Because targeting Palestinians in their homes is not enough for Israel, it drops bombs near Palestinian hospitals, especially those located in close proximity to the border, which are the most vulnerable, including hospitals in northern Gaza in Beit Hanoun and in southern Gaza in Rafah and Khan Younis.

The day before yesterday, Israeli planes bombed in the vicinity of the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis. According to a Health Ministry statement, one of the buildings of the hospital was targeted which caused cracks in the building and wounded a paramedic and a nurse. Furthermore, the hospital’s administration evacuated the children’s section because it was too close to the targeted area. The eastern fence of the hospital was also demolished. In addition, the bombing caused cracks in about 15 houses adjacent to the hospital prompting many of the area’s residents to take refuge in it.

Another factor that makes the situation more complicated for these hospitals is that the shortage in supplies is worse than in hospitals in the center of the city. Medical supplies – no matter how limited – do not reach them fast enough due to the difficulty of the movement of ambulances in those areas. After all, Israel has a history of targeting ambulances and their medical staff as they did in the previous two wars on Gaza in 2008 and 2012.

On the second day of this war, an Israeli plane targeted an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent which was transferring victims from the city of Gaza, injuring an ambulance worker in his shoulder and abdomen. Yesterday night, the Red Crescent headquarters in the town of Jabalia was bombed and three paramedics were injured. An ambulance worker, Maamoun Atallah, says the north area where he works is targeted the most. He told Al-Akhbar: “Most of the time, the planes do not fire warning rockets as they do with houses, that is why they target paramedics directly and deliberately injure them.”

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