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Lifesaving medical care collapsing under assault in Gaza: WHO — Global Issues

  • February 16, 2024

There have been reports of damage to Nasser Hospital’s orthopedic unit, reducing its ability to provide urgent medical care, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević, told correspondents at a press briefing in Geneva.

More degradation to the hospital means more lives being lost,” he said.

According to the UN agency, of the 36 hospitals in the war-ravaged enclave, only 11 are functioning. There are also reports that several patients have died during the Israeli operation.

The Israeli military has alleged that Hamas was holding hostages or withholding the bodies of Israelis within the Al Nasser compound, situated in Khan Younis.

Places of healing, not burial

The hospital has been providing lifesaving services to the most critically ill and has been a refuge to countless civilians displaced from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Jašarević added that WHO was trying to gain urgent access to the complex.

We really need to get there to bring fuel so [the] hospital can continue to function and those patients who are still there can continue to receive medical care,” he said, also stressing the need to assess the conditions of patients and for their safe referral to other facilities.

“We have been saying all this time…that patients, health workers, and civilians who are seeking refuge in hospitals deserve safety and not a burial in those places of healing,” he added.

Intense bombardment continues

Meanwhile, intense Israeli bombardment from air, land and sea continues to be reported across much of the Gaza Strip, resulting in further civilian casualties, displacement and infrastructure damage, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“Widespread ground operations and heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups also continue to be reported, especially in the centre of Khan Younis and east of Deir al Balah,” OCHA noted in a flash update issued on Friday.

Between the afternoon of 15 February and 11:00 AM on 16 February (local times), according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 112 Palestinians were killed, and 157 Palestinians were injured; and since 7 October, at least 28,775 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and a further 68,552 reported injured.

Tiny sliver of land

OCHA also relayed reports that intensified airstrikes on Rafah and statements by Israeli officials of a ground operation, have led to the movement of people sheltering there towards the town of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza.

Over half of Gaza’s population are crammed into Rafah, which is located at the southern end of the strip, in an area that represents just a fifth of the enclave’s land area.

More to follow…

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