In a joint statement, the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and World Health Organization (WHO) said conditions at the Al-Shifa Hospital — the largest in the Gaza Strip and one of the oldest Palestinian health institutions — were “disastrous” amid the raging Israel-Hamas war.
The statement issued on Wednesday said there were currently almost two patients for every bed available and emergency department and wards were overflowing requiring doctors and medical workers to treat wounded and sick patients in the corridors, floor and outdoors.
“The number of wounded increases by the hour while patients are undergoing immense and unnecessary pain as medicines and anesthetics are running out. In addition, tens of thousands of displaced people have sought shelter in the hospital’s parking lots and yards,” it said.
The statement went on to say that for over a month, no fuel has been allowed into the Gaza Strip, including to the Al-Shifa Hospital.
The two UN bodies also renewed “their urgent call for the delivery of fuel to humanitarian agencies in the Gaza Strip”.
“Without fuel, hospitals and other essential facilities like desalination plants and bakeries cannot operate, and more people will most certainly die as a result,” the joint statement added.
As a result of the fuel shortage, the Al Quds hospital in Gaza City shut down key services on Thursday, while the Al Awda hospital, the only provider of maternity services in northern Gaza, warned about an imminent closure.
The joint statement came a day after the UNRWA and WHO delivered medical supplies and medicines to the Al-Shifa Hospital.
This was only the second delivery of lifesaving supplies to the hospital since the escalation of hostilities and the total siege of Gaza began.
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces and the government have alleged that the Al-Shifa Hospital was doubling up as the command centre for Hamas and several underground tunnels were operating under the facility.
Last week, Israel had claimed responsibility for an attack outside the hospital, saying that a fighter jet struck an ambulance used by Hamas militants.
As of Thursday morning, the death toll in Gaza since the war broke out stood at 10,569, of whom 67 per cent are said to be children and women.
About 2,450 others, including 1,350 children, have been reported missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble.
The fatalities also include at least 192 medical staff, of which 16 were on duty when killed, according to WHO.
A total of 92 UNRWA staff and 18 Palestinian Civil Defense personnel have also lost their lives in the raging conflict.