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Israel-Palestine: Gaza buckles under fuel shortage, healthcare in crisis
Middle East World News

Israel-Palestine: Gaza buckles under fuel shortage, healthcare in crisis

The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF stated on Tuesday that the ongoing attacks on Gaza have caused significant harm to its children, resulting in 2,360 deaths and 5,364 injuries.

More than 400 children are said to be either killed or injured every day. According to reports, over 30 Israeli children have died and numerous others are being held captive in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations states that this 18-day period is the most severe increase in conflict between the Gaza Strip and Israel since 2006.

The majority of children residing in the Gaza Strip have experienced highly distressing incidents and psychological trauma.

Adele Khodr, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at UNICEF, stated that actions such as killing and injuring children, kidnapping them, targeting hospitals and schools, and blocking humanitarian aid are serious infringements on children’s rights.

“UNICEF is calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages, while also urging all parties to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need. It is important to remember that even in times of war, there are rules that must be followed. The safety and protection of civilians, especially children, must be a top priority and every effort should be made to spare them from harm.”

Advocates for individual rights demand entry

The Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, has requested support from Israel, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, which holds control over Gaza, in its ongoing investigations into “serious crimes,” such as murder, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.

In May 2021, the Council passed a resolution to create the Commission, which aims to examine potential breaches of international law, including the fundamental reasons behind ongoing conflicts, such as discriminatory practices and oppression.

The Commission presented its most recent report to the General Assembly on Tuesday, condemning without a doubt the murder of more than 1,000 Israeli citizens by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. The report also noted the thousands of injuries and the kidnapping of over 200 hostages, including children.

The investigators strongly denounced the Israeli military’s actions that caused the deaths of numerous Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children.

The Commission demanded an immediate end to the fighting and the prompt and secure release of all hostages.

Ms. Navi Pillay, the chair, stated that there are evident signs of ongoing international crimes being committed.

Following its directive of promoting justice and accountability, the Commission promptly initiated the process of gathering and safeguarding evidence.

She stated that their focus would not just be on criminal offenses and violations, but also on determining individual culpability.

Performing an operation without the use of anesthetic: World Health Organization (WHO)

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported that doctors in Gaza have been carrying out surgeries without the necessary supplies, including anaesthesia. They also stated that fuel has become the most essential resource in the area.

According to Tamara Alrifai, a representative for the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), not having it means that trucks cannot transport goods and generators cannot generate electricity for essential facilities such as hospitals, bakeries, and water desalination plants.

Up until now, fuel has not been included in the authorized aid convoys.

“We humbly plead for continuous, expanded, and safeguarded humanitarian efforts,” stated Dr. Rick Brennan, Emergencies Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region at the United Nations health agency (WHO).

Speaking to journalists in Cairo, he asked for those in a position to make or impact decisions to allow us the necessary room to address this humanitarian crisis.

Diligence system for aid

According to Ms. Alrifai, a total of 54 trucks have entered Gaza from Egypt in three separate convoys since Saturday. These trucks carried a variety of items, including food, medical supplies, and non-food items.

She emphasized that prior to the conflict, 500 trucks would enter Gaza daily, including both commercial and aid trucks. Around 100 of these trucks were used for aid, with 45 of them carrying fuel.

Ms. Alrifai emphasized that UNRWA was in charge of arranging the logistics, coordination, transportation, and storage of the three convoys from Rafah on the Gaza Strip’s side. When questioned about the potential danger of the fuel being intercepted by unauthorized parties, Ms. Alrifai clarified that UNRWA would be responsible for receiving and managing the fuel, ensuring its delivery to hospitals and water desalination facilities, just like with other equipment.

She stated that we have a strong system in place to ensure that anything we receive is solely used for humanitarian reasons.

It is only a matter of time before outbreaks occur.

Dr. Brennan from WHO emphasized the severe outcomes of insufficient access to clean water, especially when combined with overcrowding. He stated that in Gaza, only one to three litres of water were available per person per day, while the absolute minimum should be at least 15 litres.

Individuals were being pressured to ingest polluted water, and the proliferation of transmittable illnesses was inevitable.

According to Dr Brennan, the WHO is collaborating with UNRWA to create a monitoring system for diseases, which will provide daily updates. The most prevalent infectious illnesses include respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea, but there is also a likelihood of chicken pox and skin infections such as scabies and head lice.

Health facilities overwhelmed

The WHO emphasized the severity of the health crisis in the Gaza Strip during the ongoing Israeli bombing for more than two weeks.

Thirty-three percent of hospitals and sixty-six percent of clinics were inoperable. The healthcare facilities and staff were inundated with a high number of trauma cases, including many complicated injuries caused by explosions. Dr. Brennan used the case of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as an example, where there were 1.5 patients for every available bed.

The health system faced a significant challenge due to overcrowding, with 1.4 million people displaced throughout the territory.

Dr. Brennan stated that in their 30 years of working in humanitarian assistance, they cannot recall a time where such a large number of people were displaced within a short timeframe.

Medicines boost

The WHO has distributed medicines and supplies from three convoys to three important hospitals in southern Gaza and to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which will distribute them to its two health facilities and ambulance teams.


The medicines were unloaded from the trucks and immediately brought to the operating rooms.

According to the World Health Organization, medical personnel were greatly relieved to receive new supplies. They wasted no time in unloading boxes of medications from the trucks and bringing them directly to the operating rooms.

Dr. Brennan cautioned that in Gaza, approximately 200 women give birth each day and face challenges in finding a secure location to do so. Over 50% of these women are likely to encounter complications and may not receive the necessary medical attention.

In addition, he stated that the mental health needs of the population are “enormous” due to continuous bombardment.

‘Mortality will increase’

Dr. Brennan brought attention to the difficult situation faced by Gazans with ongoing health issues, such as kidney disease and diabetes, who are struggling to access necessary medical care. He cautioned that this could lead to serious complications and a rise in mortality rates.

In Egypt, WHO has confirmed the availability of extra medications and medical supplies ready to be utilized. These resources are sufficient to perform surgical procedures for 3,700 individuals with trauma, offer essential healthcare services to 110,000 people, and attend to the needs of 20,000 patients with chronic diseases.

Risking one’s life

Dr. Brennan emphasized that the delivery of supplies to hospitals is hindered by both the shortage of fuel and the significant security threats faced by UN staff and partners attempting to provide aid in a war-torn area.

Ms. Alrifai from UNRWA mentioned that the organization is currently grieving the loss of 35 employees. These individuals were primarily displaced and were actively working within the agency’s shelters and facilities to aid the approximately 400,000 individuals seeking refuge there.

A total of 40 UNRWA facilities have incurred damage since October 7th.

When questioned about responsibility for the fatalities and devastation, Ms. Alrifai emphasized the significance of upholding the standards of international humanitarian law during times of war.

She stated that the actions towards our coworkers and structures are not acceptable, regardless of who is responsible.