Belal Al Sabbagh Agence France-Presse Aerial view of the Gaza Strip, where buildings were heavily damaged by Israeli strikes on October 10, 2023
In the Gaza Strip, bombed by Israel after a Hamas offensive on Saturday, the al-Chifa hospital is crumbling under the wounded. Entire families arrive one after the other, staff are overwhelmed: “the situation is catastrophic,” warn local authorities.
Akram Al-Haddad, 25, stands next to his One-and-a-half-year-old nephew Abdelrahman al-Douss, injured in an Israeli airstrike that killed his four-and-a-half-year-old brother and 16 others.
The child survived with his parents , also injured in the strike that destroyed the family home in the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, in the southeast of Gaza City, says Akram, with a sad face.
But, “he needs urgent surgery for his head injury,” explains his doctor. Problem: “he must wait until an operating room becomes available.”
“We are working in exceptional circumstances […] and we must guarantee a continuous power supply and the availability of the necessary equipment before carrying out any surgical intervention,” laments the doctor who introduces himself as Abdallah.
The significant increase in the number of injured in recent days is increasing the pressure on Gaza's already limited health system, says François Audet, director of the Canadian Observatory on Humanitarian Crises and Action at the University of Quebec. to Montreal. “This is a population that essentially depends on international aid for everything related to health care,” he emphasizes, in an interview with Devoir.
Since Saturday, Israel has been bombing the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas since 2007, in response to an offensive of unprecedented scale by the Palestinian Islamist movement against the Israeli state.
In total, and according to a provisional toll, 830 people were killed on the Palestinian side, according to local authorities. Hamas announced that two of its senior officials had been killed by Israeli strikes.
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At this hospital, “a large number” of people are waiting for their turn in the emergency room. But “some lose their lives long before” being taken care of, regrets Abdallah.
“We treated a large number of injured people, most of them women and children who arrived at the same time” , explains emergency doctor Mohammad Ghoneim, interrupted by the arrival of new wounded: three women, two children, an elderly man and two young people.
“The limited capacity [of the hospital] worsens the number of victims,” he then adds, lamenting the lack of medical supplies which adds to shortages of electricity, water and oxygen, while that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Monday the imposition of a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip.
“No electricity, no water, no gas,” he said.
“Nowhere to go”
On her hospital bed, Om Rama al-Hassasna is surrounded by her four children aged three to six. They were all injured in an Israeli strike that targeted a nearby house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip.
But his house was seriously damaged, he said. She. “I was injured and so were the children. They took us here, we are waiting to be treated,” she continues.
The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip has warned that the lack of medical supplies and medicines will lead to a “catastrophic situation” in the Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people. Eight hospitals “are not enough to meet the needs of citizens,” he assured.
The capacity of a clinic or hospital to “operate minimally in a crisis situation” depends in particular of its supply of medical supplies, recalls François Audet.
Israeli bombings knocked out Beit Hanoun hospital in the north and damaged the neonatal medicine department at al-Chifa hospital.
Salameh Maarouf, director of the government media office , led by Hamas, regrets that, “given the large number of wounded,” Gaza lacks “medicines, medical supplies, scanners and x-ray machines. »
The official accuses “the occupation (Israel) of deliberately creating a miserable humanitarian situation through restrictions or aggression,” saying the Israeli state “warned that if fuel is supplied to the power plant by Egypt, the power station will be bombed.”
Without shelter, many families found refuge in the corridors of al-Chifa hospital and in the garden. After being treated, many of them have no place to go.
“My house was completely destroyed […] All the houses here were destroyed,” testifies Abou Ashour Sukayk , 39, in a strangled voice.
“It was a dark night for me, my wife and my children. »
With Florence Morin-Martel
The total siege of Gaza is prohibited by international law, recalls the UN
The total siege of the Gaza Strip announced Monday by the Israeli Minister of Defense is “prohibited” by international humanitarian law, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recalled on Tuesday. Volker Türk notably declared that “the imposition of sieges which endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential to their survival is prohibited by international humanitarian law”.
Reacting to these criticisms, The Israeli Representation to the United Nations in Geneva stressed that the siege follows the “unprecedented massacre of innocent Israelis, and Israel has every right to defend itself against such brutality.” She also deplores that the High Commissioner does not qualify the recent Hamas attacks as “terrorism”.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Monday the imposition of a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip. “No electricity, no water, no gas,” he summarized. The UN recalls that “any restriction on the movement of people and goods aimed at implementing a siege must be justified by military necessity, otherwise it may constitute collective punishment”.
Volker Türk s is said to be “deeply shocked and outraged by the allegations of summary executions of civilians and, in some cases, horrific massacres perpetrated by members of Palestinian armed groups.” He called on these groups to “immediately and unconditionally release all civilians captured and still detained.” “Hostage-taking is prohibited by international law,” he stressed. He also indicated that according to the information available to his services, the bombings of Gaza by the Israeli armed forces caused “civilian victims”.