Hospitals have only a few hours of electricity each day as they are forced to ration depleting fuel reserves and rely on generators to sustain the most critical functions, the world health body said in a statement.
GENEVA — The healthcare system in Gaza is at a “breaking point”, days after Israel announced a complete blockage of electricity, food, water and fuel to the Gaza Strip, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Thursday.
“Time is running out to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe if fuel and life-saving health and humanitarian supplies cannot be urgently delivered to the Gaza Strip amidst the complete blockade,” WHO said in a statement.
The strip, which hosts about 2.2 million Palestinians, is home to the Hamas group which mounted the biggest attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As Hamas fighters went on killing civilians and taking Israeli soldiers hostage, Israeli Defense Forces launched a counterattack against Hamas in Gaza, news websites reported on Friday.
WHO added that the hospitals only had a few hours of electricity every day and were forced to ration fuel reserves which were increasingly depleting.
“Hospitals have only a few hours of electricity each day as they are forced to ration depleting fuel reserves and rely on generators to sustain the most critical functions. Even these functions will have to cease in a few days, when fuel stocks are due to run out.”
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said on Thursday the country will not allow basic resources — including electricity, water and fuel — or humanitarian aid inside the Gaza Strip until Hamas released Israeli hostages. Katz said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And no one will preach to us morals.”
Further speaking about the impact of a complete shutdown of all resources, WHO said it was “devastating” for the vulnerable patients, including the injured who would need life-saving injuries, the patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) or the newborn infants who needed to be put on incubators.
“As injuries and fatalities continue to rise due to the ongoing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, acute shortages of medical supplies are compounding the crisis, limiting the response capacity of already overstretched hospitals to treat the sick and injured,” WHO added.
The organisation also said that the blockade had “gravely disrupted” the delivery of essential healthcare services, which included “obstetric care, management of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and heart diseases, and treatment of common infections”, since the hospitals were forced to prioritise lifesaving emergency care to people.
WHO also pointed out the damaged infrastructure as a result of intensive strikes on Gaza. “WHO has documented 34 attacks on health care in Gaza since last Saturday that have resulted in the death of 11 health workers on duty, 16 injuries, and damages to 19 health facilities and 20 ambulances,” the statement read.
It added that unless humanitarian aid reaches Gaza — especially that related to health services, medical supplies, food, clean water, fuel, and non-food items — then health officials would be unable to provide aid to people who urgently need it. “Each lost hour puts more lives at risk.”
WHO also called for an end to hostilities and urged for protection of health care and civilians.
“WHO also calls for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor to ensure unimpeded access for health and humanitarian supplies, as well as for personnel, and the evacuation of patients and the injured. WHO further reiterates its call for the respect and protection of health care.”
WHO concluded the statement saying that it was ready to immediately dispatch trauma and essential health supplies through its logistics hub in Dubai and work with partners to ensure that they can reach the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing.
“Urgent access through the crossing is essential so that WHO and other humanitarian agencies can act quickly to help save lives.” it said. — Agencies
Photo: Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on Thursday. — media photo