Gaza hospital

Palestinians injured in an Israeli attack on a family house receive medical treatment at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza on March 25, 2024.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'Beyond Comprehension': Medical Team Reports Starvation, Infections at Gaza Hospital

"We're doing everything we can, navigating through critical shortages and working with very limited resources, to save lives amidst this dire situation."

Members of an emergency medical team that has treated patients at a hospital in southern Gaza in recent weeks said Monday that the horrors they've witnessed there are "unimaginable," from worsening malnutrition to deadly infections stemming from lack of healthcare equipment.

The team formed by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) has been working at the European Hospital near Khan Younis, a city decimated by Israeli bombing. At least two hospitals in the city are currently under siege by Israeli forces, which have killed more than 32,000 Gazans and injured tens of thousands more in less than six months.

"The situation we're facing is beyond comprehension," said Arvind Das, IRC's Gaza team lead. "Continuous Israeli military operations near hospitals are making an already tense situation even worse for those seeking shelter or medical help, pushing the healthcare system to the brink of collapse."

"Despite the relentless efforts of our medical teams, the infrastructure necessary to deliver optimal medical care has been severely compromised by bombing, stringent restrictions on the entry of aid including medical supplies, and the overwhelming surge in needs," Das added. "We're doing everything we can, navigating through critical shortages and working with very limited resources, to save lives amidst this dire situation."

Not a single hospital in the Gaza Strip is fully functional after months of Israeli attacks, and the dozen that are partially operating are well beyond capacity, with patients and displaced people filling the hallways and outskirts of the facilities. The United Nations' special rapporteur on the right to health has accused Israel's military of waging an "unrelenting war" on Gaza's medical system.

Dr. Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist with the emergency medical team, said Monday that the European Hospital "had an original capacity of just 200 beds, and at the moment it has expanded to 1,000 beds."

"There are around 22,000 people that have been displaced from other parts of Gaza sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital, because people feel that it's safer to be here than anywhere else," said Karydi.

"We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed."

MAP said in a statement that the medical team's surgeons "completed successful complex vascular and orthopedic surgeries on patients" at the hospital, but some "later died due to infections in the hospitals and the inability to provide post-operative care."

"This is due to the intense security situation that forced healthcare workers to evacuate hospitals and hindered their access," said MAP. "Moreover, significant damage to hospital infrastructure and facilities, coupled with a complete shortage of equipment and medicine—largely due to Israel's restrictions on medical aid entry into Gaza—severely impacted the ability to provide necessary care."

Dr. Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon with the emergency medical team, stressed that healthcare workers in the territory are "managing with the bare minimum of resources," lacking even basic supplies such as gauze.

"We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way," said Basheer, "but the staff here are overwhelmed."

The medical team's report added to the abundance of harrowing accounts from healthcare personnel on the devastating conditions inside Gaza's hospitals, many of which have been shelled and raided—in some cases repeatedly—by Israeli forces.

Al Jazeerareported Monday that the Israeli military has "surrounded the al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in southern Gaza, while pressing on with their siege of Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the strip."

"Military vehicles, tanks, and attack drones are encircling these two facilities," Al Jazeera's Hani Mahmoud reported. "They're also blocking the entrance with piles of sand, preventing medical staff, patients, and injured people inside from leaving safely and constantly failing to provide a safe corridor for people and evacuees trapped inside the hospital."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, responded with alarm Monday to reports that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian Red Crescent Society volunteer and a displaced person sheltering at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.

"Another reported attack on al-Amal hospital in Gaza, another situation where patients and health workers are in great jeopardy," Tedros wrote on social media. "We appeal for their immediate protection, and repeat our call for a cease-fire."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.