Home News Israel’s military operation has brought Gaza’s health system to near collapse

Israel’s military operation has brought Gaza’s health system to near collapse

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Before Israel invaded Gaza last year, Dr. Mahmoud Reqeb worked at one of the largest hospitals in the Palestinian territory and had a private clinic caring for women throughout pregnancy.

Now he lives in a plastic tent Rafah, the Palestinian border town where about half of Gaza’s population has sought asylum, and treated patients free of charge in another tent.The pregnant women he serves live under Israeli bombing and with shortages of food and clean water Strive to find basic safety and nutritionnot to mention prenatal care.

Israeli forces, which began bombing Gaza six months ago, have suffered heavy losses since the Oct. 7 attack led by Hamas. the whole hospital, Hit the ambulance and killed or detained hundreds of health care workers.Israel imposes restrictions on goods entering Gaza, preventing life-saving medical supplies from reaching patients aid groups. Shortages of fuel, water and food make it difficult for medical staff to provide basic services.

The result has been the near collapse of Gaza’s health care system, which once served Gaza’s population of more than 2 million. According to the World Health Organization, as of late March, only 10 of 36 large hospitals across Gaza were “basically functioning normally.”

Israeli officials said the medical centers were targeted because Hamas militants were lurking inside and under the facilities and that this was the only way to eradicate the militant group. Hamas and medical personnel deny the accusation. aid groups, Researchers and international agencies A growing number of people are calling Israel’s dismantling of Gaza’s medical capabilities “systematic.”

“If you plot to destroy the health care system, you end up in the situation we are in today,” said Ciaran Donnelly, senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee, an aid group that has been operating in Gaza.

Mr. Donnelly said he had worked in humanitarian aid for two decades and could not think of another war that so quickly and completely destroyed a health system.

Asked for comment, the Israeli military pointed to previous statements about Hamas militants infiltrating the facility. Evidence reviewed by The New York Times It is suggested that Hamas used the Shifa hospital attacked by the Israeli army as a cover to store weapons inside and maintain a long tunnel. The Israeli military has not provided similarly extensive evidence for most of the other medical centers it has attacked.

Dr. Rekob’s old hospital, Nasser Hospital, was attacked by Israeli forces in February. When he started a new job at a UAE-funded hospital, one of the few in Gaza offering specialized gynecological and obstetric services, he was one of fewer than 10 doctors treating 500 patients a day, and “there was a severe shortage of supplies. , personnel, medicines and equipment,” he said.

“I was shocked when I realized the extent of the damage to the medical system,” Dr. Al Reqeb, 33, said in a telephone interview. “It was completely destroyed.”

The damage to the health care system is felt across Gaza. Cancer patients have to stop chemotherapy. People with kidney failure don’t have access to life-saving dialysis. Pregnant women do not receive monitoring that can help identify life-threatening conditions such as preeclampsia.

“Sometimes I cry,” said oncologist Dr. Zaki Zakzook, once one of Gaza’s leading cancer doctors who now lives with his family in a tent in Khan Younis. “I watched my patients being executed slowly, gradually.”

Dr. Zakzuk said he has been unable to do almost anything for his patients since the war forced the closure of the cancer hospital where he worked. He said he now sees patients at a hospital in the South but no longer gives them chemotherapy because he fears doing so will weaken their immune systems if the medical system cannot cope with the infection. Instead, he provides palliative care, such as painkillers.

“I’m trying to do my best and everyone else is trying, but what can we do?” he said.

In February, Israeli troops attack Nasser hospital, a large facility in Khan Younis. According to Doctors Without Borders, they shelled the hospital’s orthopedics department and detained dozens of medical staff. witnessed the attack.

“We have evidence that the Israeli military carried out deliberate and repeated attacks on Al-Nasser Hospital, its patients and medical staff,” the group wrote. The Israeli military said it had been searching for Hamas militants as well as those involved in the attack in October. The bodies of Israelis captured during the July 7 attack.

In March, the Israeli military Second attack on Al Shifa hospital, killing nearly 200 people known as terrorists. Israeli forces engaged in lengthy gun battles with Palestinian militants in and around the complex, causing widespread destruction. The company said its troops came under fire from gunmen in and around a building at the hospital. Gaza authorities said 200 civilians were killed in the attack. Neither claim can be independently confirmed.

The hospital was littered with bodies and shallow graves after the attack, said the World Health Organization, which led a team this month to assess conditions at the hospital.

in a statement After visiting the facility, the World Health Organization said the hospital was “an empty shell” with no patients and much of the equipment “unusable or reduced to ashes.”

“There is growing evidence that the Red Cross or Red Crescent is actually targeting you and not the other way around, which is just a shocking degradation of human values,” said Tim Gouda, a surgeon who has been traveling to the U.S. Dr. K said. Gaza has helped train Palestinian doctors for years and in January volunteered at a hospital there.

Before the war, Abdulaziz Said’s 63-year-old father was expected to receive a kidney transplant in March. Both Mr Said and his mother were approved as potential donors. Then the war began. Said said the doctor who performed the operation was killed and “all our plans were cancelled.”

His family now lives among dozens of displaced people in the city of Deir al-Bala, while his father, who previously required dialysis three times a week for kidney failure, can now receive only one dialysis session at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

“The biggest problem is the lack of medical staff,” Mr Said said. “There used to be three specialists in the nephrology department. Two of them have been killed and the third one can no longer be reached.”

Anas Saad, a 24-year-old nurse who works at the hospital, said many of his colleagues had resigned after repeated attacks on medical facilities.

“This is no longer a safe place,” Mr Saad said. “I am doing my best to help people survive. However, this becomes extremely dangerous because the hospital can be attacked or bombed at any time.”

Dr. Tanya Haji Hassan, an American pediatric critical care physician, recently entered Gaza as part of a team of foreign doctors to volunteer at hospitals. She described “apocalyptic” scenes that included a girl who she said died after an Israeli bulldozer crushed her tent, and a boy in a wheelchair whose entire family was killed but who believed he ‘s parents will come to save her. He because “no one had the heart to tell him.” Her account could not be independently verified.

Gaza as a whole “felt like a nuclear bomb had been struck,” she said. “The reality is, they were discharged once. ‘One trip to the hospital’ – I couldn’t believe I was saying those words.”

Wydah Saad Reporting provided by Beirut, Lebanon Jonathan Rice From Tel Aviv.

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