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No medicine, no hope: Doctors describe life under Israeli attack in Gaza

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“Life is very difficult here,” said hospital director Dr. Haidar Al-Qudra. UN News.

Currently, only 12 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are “partially” functioning, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with the rest destroyed by Israel’s near-constant bombardment of the enclave.

As the war in Gaza enters its fifth month, Israeli forces continue to attack health facilities, with Al Amal Hospital among the latest to suffer a deadly weeks-long siege. Israel says Hamas operates in hospitals, but Palestinian authorities and medical professionals have refuted the claims.

Al Amal Hospital suffered 40 direct hits that killed at least 25 people and neutralized the health facility, according to a report by the United Nations humanitarian team in Palestine.

The buildings continue to be peppered with Israeli sniper fire, communications outages and the detention of health workers, as well as drastic shortages of essential goods and restrictions on vital supplies that can enter the complex, according to the United Nations agencies and the media.

“We are surrounded now”

Since the start of the siege of Al Amal in January, more than 8,000 displaced people have been evacuated of the complex, many having used the premises as shelter from Israeli attacks in the area.

Nearby fighting and multiple bombings revealed that health workers were “fearing for their lives” and for more than a month they have been unable to leave hospital buildings, Dr Al-Qudra said .

We are now surrounded and patients cannot reach the hospital as they are not allowed to walk on the streets near the hospital.,” he said. “Our ambulances now can’t move outside the hospital.

Dr. Haidar Al-Qudra, director of Al Amal Hospital.

Dr. Haidar Al-Qudra, director of Al Amal Hospital.

“Most patients have died or are suffering”

Many surgeries were postponed, he warned, noting that five months had passed without many operations being carried out, from mastectomies to thyroidectomies.

“All these normal operations were not carried out in any hospital, therefore, most of these patients have either died or become increasingly ill“, said Dr Al-Qudra.

The extensive damage has also forced management to attempt to transfer patients to get the care they need. After the third floor ceiling collapsed, he said they will now refer about 35 patients to other nearby hospitals.

But Gaza’s remaining hospitals are severely overcrowded. In Rafah, 77 newborns shared 20 incubatorsaccording to UNFPA.

At the Al-Helal Al-Emirati maternity ward in Rafah, 77 babies share 20 incubators.

© UNFPA Palestine/Bisan Ouda

At the Al-Helal Al-Emirati maternity ward in Rafah, 77 babies share 20 incubators.

“First time we see the sun”

Dr Waheed Qudih, a surgical consultant at Al Amal Hospital, was among the medical staff trapped inside during the siege.

“This is the first time we have seen the sun,” he said, referring to the arrival this week of a joint UN mission to the devastated premises. “We have not been allowed to leave the hospital gate since January 21.»

He, like others, stayed behind “to help injured patients.”

“We do a lot of surgeries for injured patients, like general surgery and orthopedics,” he said. “We saved the lives of many patients and did what we could with limited facilities..”

Dr Waheed Qudih, consultant surgeon at Al Amal Hospital.

Dr Waheed Qudih, consultant surgeon at Al Amal Hospital.

Joint United Nations relief mission

Following reports of the medical center under siege, the UN deployed a joint mission with WHO, the humanitarian affairs office OCHA, the Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the reproductive health agency UNFPA, the Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and UNRWA, the Palestinian Refugee Relief Agency.

Meeting with health workers from the besieged hospital and checking the condition of patients and their companions inside, the the purpose of the mission The aim was to evacuate 24 patients and deliver them food, water and fuel, as well as emergency surgical equipment and antibiotics, to treat around 50 infections.

The mission had to leave behind 31 non-critical patientsan OCHA spokesperson said on Tuesday, stressing that the The Israeli army gave “no information or communication” on why the mission’s ambulances were held up for at least seven hours or why the paramedics “were taken out and forced to undress.”

“There are still patients here”

Dr Athanasios Gargavannis, a trauma surgeon and WHO emergency staff member, said the level of devastation he has witnessed is “beyond imaginable“.

“But there are still patients here,” he added. “Our top priority is to identify and refer a number of them so they can continue to receive care. »

As chronic delays at Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing continue, with reports showing Israeli protesters blocking aid from entering Gaza, some countries have resorted to emergency airdrops of aid this week.

But this is only a tiny part of what is needed at Al Amal and other health centers in Gaza.

WHO and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society are carrying out rescue missions to transfer critical patients from besieged hospitals in Gaza.

WHO and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society are carrying out rescue missions to transfer critical patients from besieged hospitals in Gaza.

“No respect for humanitarian law”

At Al Amal Hospital, Dr Al-Qudra said that before the war it had 100 beds, focused on maternal and child health and was able to meet basic needs in surgery and internal medicine while providing specialized rehabilitation services.

The destruction caused by the bombing of the third floor reduced the reception capacity to around 60 beds. Supplies are scarce. Communication outages continue.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Israeli forces continued to detain seven team members for almost three weeksincluding a doctor, an anesthesia technician and paramedics, who were arrested during the Israeli raid on Al Amal Hospital, according to media reports.

These days in Gaza, Dr Al-Qudra pointed out, there is “no respect for any rules or humanitarian rights linked to medical personnel“.

UN staff help transfer patients out of Nasser Hospital in Gaza.

UN staff help transfer patients out of Nasser Hospital in Gaza.



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