“The Shattered Illusion: How Recent Events in Gaza Have Altered Perceptions of Safety in Hospitals”

Many of the people inside the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza were not hurt or sick when it was bombed last night. Having lost their houses in the conflict brought on by the horrific attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7, they had moved here.

In the face of Israel’s ruthless counterattack, they had believed that the hospital would provide a safe haven. They were proven wrong last night.

Image Source: ABC News

According to Gaza officials cited by news agency Reuters, the attack on the hospital in central Gaza claimed the lives of at least 500 people.

The hospital was hit by a rocket that Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad misfired, according to Tel Aviv, despite the local Hamas leadership accusing Israel of attacking the hospital.

Hospitals As Shelters

UN estimates put the number of homeless individuals in Gaza at over a million out of the city’s two million inhabitants. Some of them have taken up residence in shelters managed by humanitarian organizations, but many more have taken refuge wherever they could. There are now tens of thousands of families residing in hospitals.

According to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled territory, Ahli Arab hospital was housing “forcibly displaced from their homes” in addition to hundreds of sick and injured victims from previous strikes.

As medical professionals battled to preserve life within, women could be seen baking bread and drying clothing in the hallways of Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, according to an AFP report. “Death could be kinder,” 44-year-old Amira stated to AFP.

Residents of Gaza were earlier asked to relocate southward as Israel forces stepped up their attack against Hamas. According to Tel Aviv, Hamas is preventing people from fleeing so they can serve as human shields. Additionally, since the start of the conflict, the Rafah border, which allowed Gaza to escape into Egypt, has been closed.

Hospitals Under Attack

The World Health Organization has reported that since the war started on October 7, up to 111 medical facilities or vehicles have been targeted. There have been 24 health facilities damaged, six of which are hospitals, and twelve health workers killed. Three hospitals have sustained severe damage to the point where they are no longer operational, according to the WHO report.

Israel turned off the electricity to Gaza, causing a blackout that has affected the hospitals that are still open. According to a UN report, in order to avert a total shutdown, Gazan officials have been directing fuel that is available in other public facilities to hospitals.

Additionally, donations of fuel designated for domestic use are being accepted in order to maintain hospital operations. As the medication supply runs out, the situation has gotten worse. “An estimated 50,000 pregnant women face extreme challenges to accessing prenatal and maternity care due to risks related to movement, the halt of health facilities, and shortage of lifesaving supplies,” the United Nations stated.

“Death Sentence” And An SOS

WHO has responded sharply to Israel’s order to evacuate northern Gaza as it expands its offensive. Relocating 2,000 patients to hospitals that are already at capacity could be “tantamount to a death sentence,” according to the WHO. To guarantee that medical supplies reach hospitals, the health body has demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and the creation of a humanitarian corridor.

Concerns about how a lack of funding might restrict access to necessary health services have also been voiced by the WHO. Even before the conflict, Gaza’s health system was severely underfunded, and the violence has only made the situation worse.

It has stated that thousands will lose access to basic healthcare services if funding is not received. “The Inter-Agency Flash Appeal, released on October 13 estimated that $ 23.1 million were needed for the immediate response, however this figure will only continue to rise as the situation unfolds,” it has stated.

Image Source : Mint

Crowding Sparks Infection Fears

Hospitals are facing an increasing number of patients who are seeking refuge from Israel’s airstrikes, which puts them at risk of disease outbreaks and a sanitary crisis. Amira at Nasser Hospital told AFP that they haven’t been able to take a shower for a week. “Everywhere on our bodies itch. We haven’t been able to take a shower in a week,” she remarked.

The largest hospital in Gaza, Dar al-Shifa Hospital, is in the same state of distress.

One of the thousands of people taking sanctuary there, Ibrahim Teyssir, told AFP, “No one feels sorry for us. What actions did we take to earn this? What actions have our kids taken?”

Hospitals are at a “breaking point and are overflowing and with people desperately seeking a safe shelter”, according to the WHO.

“There is increasing congestion. According to UN agency, which cited Hamas health officials, “there are over 30,000 people seeking shelter at Shifa Hospital alone.” “We are extremely concerned about disease outbreaks due to mass displacement and poor water and sanitation among people who are already in a dire situation.”

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