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Restoring basic functions at Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital 'implausible' in short term: WHO chief

April 7, 2024 at 11:17 am

A view of the area where Al-Shifa Hospital and its surrounding are located in Gaza City, Gaza on April 01, 2024 [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

There is no chance that the Gaza Strip’s largest medical complex will soon return to even “minimal functionality” after two weeks of raids left much of the facility in ruins, the head of World Health Organization’s (WHO) said Saturday, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Even restoring minimal functionality in the short term seems implausible,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X after a WHO-led multi-agency mission accessed Al-Shifa Hospital in western Gaza City.

“WHO and partners managed to reach Al-Shifa — once the backbone of the health system in Gaza, which is now an empty shell with human graves after the latest siege,” said Tedros.

The team observed at least five dead bodies, he noted, adding that most structures in the hospital compound had suffered extensive damage, with many assets damaged or destroyed.

“WHO and partners’ recent effort to support the revival of basic services at Al-Shifa are now lost, and people are once again deprived of access to lifesaving health care services,” according to Tedros.

A thorough evaluation by a team of engineers is needed to ascertain the safety of the remaining buildings for potential future use, he said.

With the looming threat of famine, the spread of disease outbreaks and the rise in trauma injuries, WHO calls for urgent safeguarding of the remaining health care facilities in Gaza, along with the protection of health workers and humanitarian personnel, he said.

The WHO chief also stressed the importance of unobstructed passage for humanitarian aid into and throughout Gaza, as well as an urgent ceasefire.

Israel announced Monday it had withdrawn from the Al-Shifa Hospital and its surroundings after 14 days of raids beginning 18 March.

The hospital had been previously subject to a raid on 16 November after it was besieged for one week when its courtyards, parts of its buildings, medical equipment and power generator were destroyed.

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which last week asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

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