As many of the hospitals in the Gaza Strip house thousands of displaced families, they are severely overcrowded and face a growing risk of complete medical collapse. Additionally, there is a shortage of fuel, food, water, and medical supplies.
This was confirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in a statement issued today. The statement indicated the need to take concrete actions to preserve access to life-saving and emergency medical care in the Gaza Strip.
Today, for approximately 2 million people, the Nasser Medical Complex and the European Gaza Hospital (EGH) – both located in the south of the Gaza Strip – are the only two referral hospitals that provide advanced surgical and medical emergency services with large bed capacities, which is not sufficient for the current wounded and sick across Gaza. Nasser, and a third facility, Al Amal Hospital, operated by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, are in the midst of the current hostilities, the statement reads.
Less than 20% of Gaza’s land – roughly 60 square kilometers – is now refuge to over 1.5 million people. These people are living in desperate circumstances in the south of the Gaza Strip, where the dramatic escalation of the fighting threatens their survival, it added.
William Schomburg, the head of the ICRC’s office in Gaza, said that every hospital in the Gaza Strip is over-crowded and short on medical supplies, fuel, food and water. Many are housing thousands of displaced families. And now two more facilities risk being lost due to the fighting. The cumulative impact on the health system is devastating and urgent action must be taken.
The Red Cross emphasised that the humanitarian imperative to protect Gaza’s health facilities is clear. If these medical facilities – especially Nasser and EGH – cease to function, the world will bear witness to untold thousands of preventable deaths given the size of the population, the current extreme living conditions, a collapsing health system, and the intensity of the fighting.
“The parties to the conflict and all who have influence upon them must take immediate steps to ensure the hospitals and the people within them are safe; to ensure that health personnel, wounded and sick people, and ambulances can safely access the hospital; and to facilitate the timely re-supply of items necessary to the functioning of the hospitals including medicine, fuel, food and water.”
Human rights and international humanitarian law, which protects hospitals and healthcare workers, are blatantly violated by the Israeli occupation’s ongoing targeting of medical professionals and facilities in the Gaza Strip.
Given the poor health conditions in Gaza, the attack on medical personnel and the destruction of health facilities cause more suffering for the civilian population.
The occupation destroyed the only supplies of fuel, electricity, water, and food for the people of the Gaza Strip at the start of the conflict by bombing bakeries, factories, stores, water stations, tanks, and other infrastructure.
The Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights, as it exposes the civilians’ lives to extreme danger and causes them great suffering, which requires urgent and decisive international intervention to stop the aggression and protect civilians in the Gaza Strip.