Gaza’s Health system ‘on its knees,’ WHO chief said; pushes for ceasefire

Gaza's Health system 'on its knees,' WHO chief said; pushes for ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 11 (APP): Amid escalating Israeli attacks on Gaza, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Friday that half of the hospitals in in the bomb-out enclave are non-operational, stressing that the health system in the bombed-out Palestinian enclave is “on its knees”.

Briefing the UN Security Council on the state of medical facilities in Gaza, he made a fervent appeal for an immediate ceasefire and unfettered humanitarian access to the enclave where “nowhere and no one is safe” as the Israel-Palestinian war rages on.

The WHO chief said that the situation is impossible to describe, with hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick and the dying, morgues overflowing, and surgical procedures conducted without anaesthesia. Thousands of displaced people are sheltering at hospitals, with 70 per cent of the more than 10,800 people so far killed being women and children.

“On average, a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza,” Tedros stated.

Some 1.5 million people now are displaced and looking for shelter anywhere, but “nowhere and no one is safe” and overcrowding is increasing the risk of diarrheal and respiratory diseases and skin infections, he said.

WHO, which was part of the first aid convoy to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on 21 October, has since delivered 63 metric tons of specialist medical equipment and supplies, but this does not address the scale of needs, he added.

Since 7 October, WHO has verified more than 250 attacks on healthcare facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to 25 attacks on similar sites facilities in Israel, he added. He called for unfettered access into Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid, for Hamas to release its hostages and for Israel to restore electricity, water and fuel supplies. He also called for a ceasefire and for both sides to abide by international humanitarian law.

The head of the Palestine Red Crescent Society said that four hospitals in the northern part of the Gaza Strip had been hit in the past 24 hours, accusing Israel of deliberately targeting them in an attempt to force Palestinian civilians out of Gaza.

“The health sector in Gaza is under attack,” Marwan Jilani, director general of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, told the Council.

Jilani said the hospitals — Al-Shifa, Al-Awda, Al-Quds and the Indonesian Hospital — had all come under fire. At Al-Quds in Gaza City, he said one person died and 20 others were injured. In addition to tending to patients, the hospitals have become refuges for tens of thousands of Gazans seeking safety.

“I’m calling upon the council members on behalf of the staff and volunteers, the emergency medical teams and the doctors and nurses besieged in Gaza’s hospitals, to do all you can to spare further death and suffering,” Jilani said.

Jilani warned that at Al-Quds hospital, the main generator shut down two days ago because of a lack of fuel. Jilani said 14,000 displaced persons are sheltering there in addition to the 400 sick and wounded patients.

“Right now, there is a very serious risk that we will lose all the patients in the intensive care units and those children in incubators,” the Red Crescent chief said.

Israeli army officials allege that Hamas hides weapons in tunnels under hospitals and has set up a command center beneath Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, making the buildings a legitimate military target. Hamas and hospital staff deny this.

Israel, they added, would start implementing daily four-hour pauses in its military operation against Hamas in areas of northern Gaza.

The pauses are intended to give Palestinians time to evacuate south along two humanitarian corridors. The U.N. says more than 50,000 people fled south on Thursday on foot or in donkey carts, and 80,000 overall since Sunday.

But the possibility of longer humanitarian truces to get aid in and evacuate the seriously wounded appears dim.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) called for the meeting, citing “the spiraling health crisis amidst continued attacks on hospitals.”

This was the seventh time that the Council convened on the current crisis.

“We keep hoping and yearning for a united message from the Security Council to see an end to the conflict in Gaza; it hasn’t happened,” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters at UN Headquarters earlier on Friday.

This week, the Council had met privately to discuss the matter. At the same time, the General Assembly has resumed its resumed tenth emergency special session on the crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Thursday that he is not interested in a cease-fire.

“A cease-fire with Hamas means surrender,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that “much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them” in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi as he wrapped up an intense nine-day diplomatic tour of the Middle East and Asia, Blinken said Israel’s recent military pauses are positive, but not nearly enough.

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