‘Hospitals in Gaza at breaking point’


WHO calls for the opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow health workers into the territory, as well as the evacuation of the sick and injured…reports Asian Lite News

The World Health Organization has called for immediate humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, warning Israel’s blockade and bombardment have left the enclave’s health system at “breaking point”.

Noting Gaza’s overstretched hospitals had only a few hours of electricity a day, with fuel being rationed to maintain critical services including intensive care, and X-ray and dialysis services, the United Nations’ health agency called for the opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow health workers into the territory, as well as the evacuation of the sick and injured.

It said shortages of medical supplies were also severe and that time was running out to prevent a humanitarian disaster in a territory that is home to more than two million people.

“Without the immediate entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza – especially health services, medical supplies, food, clean water, fuel, and non-food items – humanitarian and health partners will be unable to respond to urgent needs of people who desperately need it,” the agency said in a statement late on Thursday. “Each lost hour puts more lives at risk.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also raised concern about the deteriorating situation in Gaza, describing the situation as “abhorrent”.

“As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk. Kidney dialysis stops, and X-rays can’t be taken,” Fabrizio Carboni, the regional director for the Near and Middle East for the ICRC said in a statement on Friday. “Without electricity, hospitals risk turning into morgues.”

Israel has said it has dropped about 6,000 bombs on Gaza since it began its bombardment almost a week ago following an attack by the armed Hamas group that caught its security forces off-guard and killed more than 1,300 Israelis.

At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the subsequent onslaught and thousands more injured as Israel prepares for a possible ground assault on the enclave.

Gaza has about 30 hospitals, 13 of them operated by the Ministry of Health and others privately run.

The WHO said it had documented 34 attacks on healthcare services in Gaza since Saturday. By yesterday, 11 WHO health workers had been killed while 16 were injured. Another five ICRC workers were killed. The WHO said 20 ambulances had also been hit.

The agency called for the immediate opening of the Rafah border crossing on the border with Egypt.

“WHO is ready to immediately dispatch trauma and essential health supplies … to ensure that they can reach the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing,” the WHO said. “Urgent access through the crossing is essential so that WHO and other humanitarian agencies can act quickly to help save lives.”

Blinken highlights civilian suffering, security concerns

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has brought to light the harrowing realities faced by civilians in the region, as well as the security concerns that continue to escalate.

“I’ve seen a baby, an infant riddled with bullets. Soldiers beheaded. Young people burned alive in their cars or in their highway rooms. It almost defies comprehension,” Secretary Blinken expressed anguish at the barbarity of the Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel.

“So, we did see, photographs and videos that, the Israeli government shared with us… It’s hard to find the right words. It’s beyond what anyone would ever wanna imagine much less actually see and god forbid experience,” said Blinken on horrific photographs of the Hamas attack.

Furthermore, Secretary Blinken discussed efforts to address the humanitarian needs of the people living in Gaza while safeguarding them from harm during Israel’s legitimate security operations aimed at defending itself from terrorism. He also explored the possibilities of providing safe passage for civilians who wish to leave Gaza, acknowledging the importance of protecting innocent lives.

“We did discuss ways to address the humanitarian needs of people living in, Gaza to protect them from harm while Israel conducts its legitimate security operations to defend itself from terrorism and to try to ensure that this never happens again. We also talked about, possibilities for safe passage for civilians who want to leave or get out of the way, in Gaza, and that’s, a conversation to the discussion that we will pursue, in the coming days, including some of the countries that we’ll be visiting…,” he said.

In his discussions with Israeli leadership, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend its people and its determination to prevent a recurrence of the tragic events that unfolded recently.

Secretary Blinken, on behalf of President Biden, also emphasized the importance of preventing any further fronts in the ongoing conflict and warned against any attempts by state or non-state actors to exploit the situation.

“It’s our determination and, that of Israel as well, that not be a second front or a third front. And we are working, as hard as we can, working with other partners in the region, to try, to ensure that the case. President Biden has also been very clear that no one, state or non-state actor should try to take advantage of this moment…,” Blinken said.

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