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Human Rights

Gaza: WHO Describes Al Shifa Hospital as a ‘Bloodbath’

Medics treat Palestinians injured in Israeli bombardment, at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 17, 2023. Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday said that Al Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has been severely impacted by Israeli bombardments, leaving it in desperate need of resuscitation.

According to the WHO, tens of thousands of displaced people have sought shelter in the hospital building and grounds.

The emergency department, described as a “bloodbath” by the WHO team, is overwhelmed with hundreds of injured patients, and new arrivals continue to flood in.

Patients with trauma injuries are reportedly being treated on the floor, with a severe shortage of essential supplies such as drinking water, food, and pain management.

The hospital is currently operating at a minimal scale with limited staff, and critical patients are being transferred to Al Ahli Arab Hospital for surgeries.

Compounding the crisis, the operating theatres at Al Shifa are not functional due to a lack of oxygen and supplies. The WHO team said that the hospital requires urgent resuscitation to meet the escalating medical needs of the population.

The situation is grim, with only 30 patients able to receive dialysis daily. The broader health infrastructure in Gaza has been extensively damaged by Israeli military actions since the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli territory.

The Israeli authorities claim that approximately 1,140 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the October attack, with 240 hostages taken. In contrast, Hamas alleges that Israel’s retaliatory offensive has resulted in the deaths of 18,800 people, predominantly women and children.

Amidst the chaos, Israel has accused Hamas of operating a command center below Al Shifa Hospital, which is protected under the laws of war. Despite repeated denials from hospital officials and Hamas, Israel’s claims persist.

The WHO has pledged to reinforce Al Shifa in the coming weeks to enable the resumption of basic services. Currently, Al Ahli Arab Hospital is the sole facility partially functioning in the entire north of Gaza, with Al Shifa, Al Awda, and Al Sahaba Medical Complex operating at minimal capacity.

Before the conflict, Gaza boasted 24 operational healthcare facilities. The WHO has also raised concerns about Kamal Adwan Hospital, where the Israeli army allegedly fired on patient rooms on December 13.

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