The situation in hospitals in the Gaza Strip, extremely precarious since Israel’s response against Hamas, risks getting worse as the electricity has been cut and a blockade has been imposed by Israel.
• Read also: LIVE | 5th day of Hamas-Israel war
• Read also: Student, historian or soldier, some journeys of Hamas hostages
• Read also: Two Canadians dead in Israel; three are still missing
“It’s like a tsunami of casualties,” said Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a British surgeon who left London in recent days to join humanitarian efforts in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking from Al-Chifa Hospital, the region’s largest hospital and medical complex, he says he has seen “nothing like the absolute devastation” he has witnessed over the past 72 hours .
screenshot | Reuters
Dr. Abu-Sittah, who is a plastic surgeon, also says that Al-Chifa’s medical staff are inundated with injured children, dead people and rapidly dwindling medical supplies.
“As always in the war in Gaza, the percentage of children is much higher than in other conflicts, because they are targeted in their homes,” he added in an interview with the Independent.
The average age of Gaza’s population is 18, and this is reflected in the number of patients: almost forty percent of the more than 650 people treated at the hospital are children.
Listen to the Lisée – Mulcair meeting with Richard Martineau broadcast live every day at 8:50 a.m. via QUB radio :
It describes a fourteen-year-old girl whose 70% of her body, including her face, was burned by explosions and other chemicals used in Israeli army weapons.
“She is unrecognizable. The most common injuries we face are burns. But we also see many injuries caused by explosions and shrapnel,” adds the surgeon in an interview with the British media. Other children treated include a five-year-old with crush injuries, a nine-year-old with facial burns and a fourteen-year-old boy with a compressed open skull fracture.
screenshot | Reuters
“The boy, with a compound fracture, his parents died. He is completely alone. Many of these children are now alone, they were at home when they were attacked and they lost their parents. They are too disturbed to speak,” adds the doctor.
Last year, a Save the Children report found that four in five children in Gaza suffered from mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, and that the situation had deteriorated in the four years since their last report.
“It’s not just about the children, the parents are absolutely devastated because many of them no longer have a home. They sleep in the park and come back to the children,” explains Dr Abu-Sittah.
He says that equipment and medicine are starting to run out. Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic used to treat burns, has run out and staff are using soap and water to wash wounds, increasing the risk of catching life-threatening infections.
Orthopedic equipment such as plates and screws are also out of stock.
“All of this is being consumed at a staggering rate for the multiple injured patients who need daily dressings,” he continues. “The system was already overwhelmed because of the siege and now it’s much worse.”
Dr. Abu-Sittah, who has experienced many instances of war in Gaza, including the conflicts of 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2021, maintains that the current situation is one of the worst.
“2014 was like a meat grinder. But I’ve never seen anything like this in all the years I’ve worked. If the humanitarian corridor is not opened, the system will collapse very soon.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called for the opening of a humanitarian corridor to the Gaza Strip sealed off and bombarded by Israeli forces after Hamas attacks which left hundreds dead in Israel.
“A humanitarian corridor is needed to deliver essential medical supplies to populations,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told a UN briefing in Geneva.
He said the organization was working on it with “partners”.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in Cairo on Monday during a regional meeting of the organization, spoke with Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the Egyptian head of state whose country shares a border with Gaza, in order to raise the possibility of transporting essential products for care and the proper functioning of hospitals.
“We need these supplies. Hospitals cannot function without fuel, without electricity. The supplies we have pre-positioned are already at a low level, so we need these supplies to arrive,” Mr Jasarevic insisted.
– With AFP