Doctors facing 'unimaginable' situations in Gaza hospital, say aid groups

By Isaac M March 25, 2024

Aid groups claim doctors are facing an “unimaginable” situation inside a hospital in southern Gaza and have had to deal with shortages of even basic medical supplies.

The groups say surgeons visiting Gaza‘s European Hospital have reported treating patients with “large infected open wounds”.

In other cases, they say doctors have had to administer emergency nutritional supplies because a lack of food has jeopardised the treatment of patients.

It comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to Jordan on Monday there is growing international consensus on the need to tell Israel a ceasefire is necessary.

“I also see a growing consensus – I heard in the US, heard from the European Union, not to mention of course the Muslim world, to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster,” he told a news conference.

New UN Security Council vote

The UN Security Council is set to hear another resolution on Monday calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza – during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The resolution, put forward by 10 elected council members, is backed by Russia and China and the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations.

A resolution sponsored by the US calling for “an immediate and sustained ceasefire” was vetoed last week by Russia and China.

The US has warned Monday’s resolution could hurt negotiations to halt hostilities by the US, Egypt and Qatar.

The Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body, has adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza since Hamas’s 7 October attack which sparked the latest conflict with Israel, but neither has called for a ceasefire.

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A statement issued on Friday night by the Arab Group appealed to all 15 council members “to act with unity and urgency” and vote for the resolution “to halt the bloodshed, preserve human lives and avert further human suffering and destruction”.

Ramadan began 10 March and ends 9 April, which means if the resolution is approved the ceasefire demand would last for just two weeks.

‘Unimaginable’ situations in hospital

An emergency medical team organised by three aid groups spent two weeks carrying out surgeries and other care at Gaza’s European Hospital near Khan Younis – a city that has seen heavy fighting since the start of the conflict.

They say the hospital has expanded to 1,000 beds from its original capacity of 200 to accommodate patients from Nasser Hospital, the main hospital in Khan Younis, which Israeli forces raided last month.

In a statement released on Monday, the team, organised by Medical Aid for Palestinians, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, said healthcare workers had been forced to evacuate or were unable to access the hospital.

It said Israeli restrictions had led to shortages of medical supplies, including basics like gauze, plates and screws used to stabilise broken bones.

The visiting surgeons also “reported large infected open wounds on patients and having to administer emergency nutritional supplies to patients as the lack of food was jeopardising patient treatment”.

Dr Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anaesthetist, described the situation as “unimaginable”.

She added: “There are around 22,000 people that have been displaced from other parts of Gaza sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital – because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.”

Pic: Belal Khaled/IRC
 Arvind Das, IRC Emergancy Country Director, walks through a corridor full of IDPs at the European Hospital in Gaza...T
Arvind Das walks through a corridor full of displaced families at Gaza’s European Hospital. Pic: Belal Khaled/IRC

IRC Gaza team lead Arvind Das said: “The situation we’re facing is beyond comprehension. We’re doing everything we can, navigating through critical shortages and working with very limited resources, to save lives amidst this dire situation.”

Israel has denied blocking supplies into Gaza and has accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian facilities to shield its fighters – claims which the Palestinian militant group has dismissed.

Israel ‘raids two more hospitals’

Separately, on Sunday, the Palestinian Red Crescent accused Israeli forces of besieging two other hospitals.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, one of its staff was killed when Israeli tanks suddenly pushed back into areas around Al Amal and Nasser hospitals in Khan Younis.

It said Israeli forces sealed off Al Amal Hospital and carried out extensive bulldozing operations in its vicinity.

“All of our teams are in extreme danger at the moment and are completely immobilised,” the humanitarian group said.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said units began operating around Al Amal following “precise intelligence… which indicated that terrorists are using civilian infrastructure for terror activities in the area of al Amal”.

Smoke rises during an Israeli raid at Al Shifa hospital and the area around it, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City, March 21, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
An Israeli raid at al Shifa hospital last week. Pic: Reuters

The IDF has been involved in operations at a number of hospitals, including within al Shifa hospital in recent weeks.

Israel claimed at the weekend it had killed 170 militants and captured 480 others in continued clashes at the medical complex.


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