The healthcare system in the besieged Gaza Strip is on the verge of collapse, Palestinian officials warned on Sunday. They blame the ongoing 15-year Israeli siege of the occupied Palestinian territory and the large of number of casualties during Israel's latest military offensive.
Moreover, for the fifth consecutive day, Israel has tightened the closure of the Gaza crossings through which food and other basic commodities, including fuel for the sole electricity plant, enter the coastal enclave.
"Casualties arrive at the hospital every minute," said the Director of Al-Shifa Medical Compound, the largest and main hospital in Gaza, Dr Mohammad Abu Selmiyeh. He warned that basic services could grind to a halt at any time due to the lack of medicines and basic medical equipment, as well as the electricity crisis.
During Israel's bombardment of Gaza which started on Friday until a ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night, 44 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women. At least 360 were wounded. On Saturday, the electricity plant stopped working after the fuel ran out.
"The situation is very critical," explained Abu Selmiyeh. He stressed that it is essential for the border crossings to reopen as a matter of urgency to allow medicines, medical equipment and disposables, as well as fuel, to reach the beleaguered Strip, which has been under an Israeli-led siege since 2007.
In an appeal issued on Sunday afternoon, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that it had the ability to continue operating only for 48 hours. Officials warned that healthcare will come to a halt unless fuel and medicines are allowed into the Gaza Strip.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned that the lack of fuel might affect the work of ambulances and desalination plants in the territory.