Gaza’s Largest Hospital in Dire Straits Amid Israeli Offensive

Al-Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, faces a critical situation as Israeli strikes continue. With fuel reserves depleted, the medical staff resorted to using foil and hot water bottles to keep premature infants warm after oxygen supplies were exhausted. Amidst the chaos, multiple deaths, including of children, have occurred, and essential hospital services have ceased due to power shortages.

by Jack Diffley

Gaza’s primary medical facility, Al-Shifa Hospital, is in a desperate state, as reported by its director, amidst the Israeli offensive that has left the hospital’s vicinity a battleground. The hospital, struggling with depleted fuel reserves, is on the brink of collapse, which is causing a severe crisis for the most vulnerable, including premature infants.

Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of Al-Shifa, conveyed the precarious conditions facing the hospital in an interview with Al-Araby TV. He described the critical measures taken to preserve the lives of newborns after the hospital ran out of oxygen. The infants were moved from their incubators and wrapped in foil as a rudimentary means of preserving their body heat, with hot water bottles placed nearby to substitute for the warmth usually provided by the incubators.

The hospital’s distress was visually captured in poignant images showing infants bundled together, lying in a shared bed, outside their life-supporting incubators. Dr. Abu Salmiya recounted the tragic outcomes faced by children in the ICU and nursery who succumbed amidst the ongoing bombardment and blockade, severely limiting the hospital’s operational capacity.

The Israeli airstrikes, which have been ongoing since the Hamas attack on October 7, have taken a toll of over 11,000 lives, as per Palestinian health officials. The situation has been exacerbated by a fuel blockade, leading to widespread shutdowns of crucial services that rely on electricity, including medical care.

The weekend saw Al-Shifa plunge into what was described as a catastrophic state. Aid agencies reported that hospital staff, patients, and the thousands seeking refuge within its walls were effectively besieged by the conflict. Israeli officials, on the other hand, maintain that evacuation routes have been made available for safe passage from the hospital.

Inside the hospital, the situation is grim, with all operating theatres rendered inactive due to the power crisis, as detailed by Abu Salmiya. “Those requiring surgeries are dying, and there is nothing we can do,” he lamented.

Adding to the healthcare debacle, the Palestine Red Crescent Society announced the shutdown of Al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City, also a victim of the fuel and power crisis. The widespread ramifications of the conflict are starkly apparent, with aid workers operating under candlelight, shortages of food, and people resorting to untreated pipe water due to the scarcity of clean drinking water.

Israeli military spokespersons assert that their operations are focused on combating Hamas and deny targeting the hospital. However, they accuse Hamas of entrenching within civilian infrastructure, including hospitals – a claim refuted by the medical staff at Al-Shifa and the militant group.

Amidst these trying circumstances, international calls for a ceasefire are intensifying as the world reacts to the escalating violence and the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has conditioned any cessation of hostilities on the release of hostages purportedly held by Hamas in Gaza, according to Israeli military estimates.

As global leaders press for peace and the conflict’s grim toll mounts, the hospital continues to grapple with an unprecedented crisis, emphasizing the urgent need for a resolution and humanitarian aid.

(Associated Medias | FAD) – All rights reserved.