UN begs for more aid to enter Gaza as hospitals run out of fuel

A bloodied young boy with black soot on one side of his face has a splint on his leg as he sits on a hospital bed and an adult wearing protective clothing holds his arm

An injured boy is treated at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on 23 October.

Omar Al-Dirawi APA images

Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza is getting even deadlier, with more than 700 Palestinians killed overnight, the health ministry in the territory said on Tuesday.

Nearly 5,800 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the health ministry, including 2,360 children. Hundreds of people remain under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

The UN is begging Israel to allow more aid into Gaza, particularly fuel.

The Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza “was forced to shut down some critical services due to lack of fuel, and is now running with limited functionality,” the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

WHO added that Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital, “where bed occupancy is already close to 150 percent,” is also waiting for additional medical supplies and fuel.

“The Turkish Friendship Hospital, the only oncology hospital in the Gaza Strip, remains partially functional due to lack of fuel, putting around 2,000 cancer patients at risk,” WHO said.

The Indonesian hospital, al-Shifa hospital and the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital are all in the northern half of Gaza. Israel ordered the evacuation of more than one million Palestinians from that area on 12 October.

Hospitals in that area have said that it is impossible to evacuate their patients.

More than 5,000 patients are currently being treated at al-Shifa hospital, “significantly over its capacity of 700 patients,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday. Additionally, there are around 45,000 displaced people staying on the hospital grounds.

The UN added that “12 hospitals and 46 primary care clinics across Gaza have been forced to shut down due to damage they had sustained or lack of electricity and supplies.”

The World Health Organization has meanwhile documented 72 attacks on health care in Gaza resulting in 16 deaths and 30 injuries of on-duty health care workers.

Thousands of lives at risk

The lives of thousands of patients are at risk as hospitals run out of fuel, including 1,000 patients dependent on dialysis treatment, 130 premature babies and patients in intensive care or who rely on life support equipment.

WHO said that 34,000 liters of fuel were delivered to four hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent Society “to sustain its ambulance services.”

“However, this is only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours,” WHO added.

The UN’s health agency said that medicines and health supplies were distributed to four hospitals in the southern half of Gaza and to the Palestine Red Crescent Society for two of its facilities and ambulance crews.

Palestinian organizations have called on the international community, particularly Egypt and UN agencies, to “ensure that the delivery of humanitarian aid and relief will not be conditioned or limited to Gaza’s southern districts.”

WHO said on Tuesday that it had delivered medical supplies to al-Shifa hospital in the northern half of Gaza and emphasized that “much more is needed across all health facilities in the Gaza Strip.”

Aid trickles in via Rafah

Since Saturday, aid has begun to trickle into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. But the number of trucks entering the territory are only a tiny fraction of what came into Gaza on a daily basis before Israel imposed a total siege on the territory on 9 October.

Aid is being brought in only via Rafah crossing, which is a passenger crossing not equipped for the transfer of large quantities of goods. The nearby Karem Abu Salem crossing – or Kerem Shalom – controlled by Israel is Gaza’s main point of entry for humanitarian aid.

Israel says that it will not transfer any aid through the crossings it controls so long as Palestinian armed groups in Gaza are holding people captured in Israel.

“Willfully impeding relief supplies is a war crime, as is collectively punishing civilians for the actions of armed groups,” Human Rights Watch said on Monday.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.