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Gaza: Al-Shifa Hospital a ‘bloodbath,’ says WHO

December 18, 2023 at 9:04 am

A general view of Al-Shifa Hospital, where Palestinians are sheltering and trying to survive under difficult conditions due to the ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza City, Gaza on December 10, 2023. [Abdulqader Sabbah – Anadolu Agency]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the emergency department at Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip as a “bloodbath in need of resuscitation.” The hospital has been targeted heavily by Israeli bombs, the organisation reminded the world on Sunday.

A team of WHO and other UN agencies was able to deliver medical supplies to the hospital on Saturday. Al-Shifa is the largest medical facility in the besieged and bombarded Gaza Strip.

“Tens of thousands of displaced people are using the hospital building and grounds for shelter,” said the WHO. There is “a severe shortage” of drinking water and food. “The team described the emergency department as a ‘bloodbath’, with hundreds of injured patients inside, and new patients arriving every minute.” Patients with trauma injuries were being sutured on the floor. “No pain management is available.”

The hospital is functioning at a minimal level with very few staff, explained the WHO. “Critical patients are being transferred to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital for surgery [because] operating theatres are not working due to a lack of oxygen and supplies. It is a hospital in need of resuscitation.”

Only 30 patients can receive dialysis daily, the WHO team pointed out. The organisation will try to reinforce Al-Shifa “in the coming weeks” in order for it to resume basic services. “Up to 20 operating theatres in the hospital, as well as post-operative care services, can be activated if provided with regular supplies of fuel, oxygen, medicines, food and water, as well as the necessary staff.”

Currently, Al-Ahli Arab is the only hospital “partially functioning” in the entire north of the Gaza Strip, while three hospitals, namely Al-Shifa, Al Awda and Al Sahaba Medical Complex, are functioning at a minimum level.

The Israeli army has deliberately targeted healthcare infrastructure in the besieged Gaza Strip with aerial and ground bombardments since 7 October, compounding the difficulties already in place after 16 years of siege. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, as of Sunday Israel has killed 18,800 Palestinians, mainly children and women since the start of its military offensive.

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