Israeli Operation Overwhelms Hospitals in Rafah

Israeli Operation Overwhelms Hospitals in Rafah

Rafah’s medical facilities are overloaded, even in the absence of a full-scale Israeli ground attack.

With the Israeli military starting a “limited” offensive against Hamas on its eastern boundaries on Monday, more than a million Palestinians seeking cover in the southern part of Gaza City run the risk of losing access to medical care, according to medics.

Abu Youssef al-Najjar, the largest of the city’s three partially operational hospitals, had to be quickly abandoned the following day due to fighting nearby and staff being given an order to evacuate.

For those suffering from kidney failure, the hospital’s dialysis unit had been the only one to survive in Gaza.

Along with the nearby border crossings at Rafah and Kerem Shalom, the Israeli assault has also blocked access to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where important patients were being referred for surgery.

The Kuwaiti Specialist hospital is finding it difficult to handle an increase in emergency cases due to a shortage of space, personnel, and supplies, while the Emirati maternity hospital in Rafah is preoccupied with tending to the needs of several dozen babies every day.

“Catastrophic in every sense of the word” was how one doctor described the situation at the hospital, which had only four intensive care beds prior to the war.

“Regretfully, the Kuwaiti hospital is a small hospital that lacks diagnostic capabilities,” the hospital’s director, Dr. Jamal al-Hams, stated to the Gaza Lifeline show on BBC Arabic. “Even the X-ray machine is disabled due to the Israeli shelling and there are no spare parts for it, as the crossings are closed.”

He said, “And the CBC analysis device has stopped due to being overloaded,” alluding to the complete blood count test, which is used to identify and track a wide range of illnesses.

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Dr. Hams stated that despite this, he and his associates were still required to care for patients who had burns, fractures, severe trauma wounds, and crushed limbs.

“We have received some cases of torn abdomen and intestines, and cases of skull fractures with parts of the brain outside the skull,” he said. Along with incidences of lower limb amputation at the foot area, certain cases have resulted in the loss of significant portions of the buttocks.

“odd weapons are the source of these odd injuries. I experienced every previous battle [in Gaza], where injuries were always limited to a specific location and treated by a single specialist. Now, however, every situation requires multiple specialists.”

He was particularly incensed at the fact that physicians at the al-Najjar hospital had to leave their family homes and the institution so abruptly.

On Monday, the Israeli military ordered the residents of several eastern Rafah neighbourhoods to evacuate for their own safety and move to a “extended humanitarian area” that stretched from the neighbouring town of al-Mawasi to the town of Deir al-Balah in the centre. The Israeli military said that this area would have field hospitals, tents and relief supplies.

“Where ought they to go? In other safe zones, foodstuffs and tents were to be made available. It has not been done, according to Dr. Hams.

Many badly injured or ill patients would no longer be able to be saved by Rafah’s remaining medical facilities, according to Dr. Youssef Abu al-Rish, undersecretary of the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, who spoke with Gaza Lifeline.

“Rafah governorate does not have real medical services after the Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital went out of service and people were unable to reach the European Gaza Hospital,” he stated.

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“Although there are numerous field hospitals, they lack the resources and infrastructure to offer all of these treatments. For example, they lack blood banks, oxygen generators, acute care units, and dialysis services.”

“The Kuwaiti Hospital is a small, non-governmental facility; it is not equipped to handle emergency cases,” he continued. However, we’re working to improve its capabilities.”

The medical relief organisation Project Hope announced on Thursday that nearly all of its employees had left, with many making their way to Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah, and that all of its clinics and mobile medical centres in Rafah were closed.

Most relief efforts were centred around Rafah. People are now further north, and assistance is almost nonexistent. More and more individuals will pass away from avoidable causes as long as the conflict persists and the Rafah border crossing is closed, according to Moses Kondowe, the Gaza team head in Rafah.

Rafah has field hospitals set up, but their capacity to treat patients is restricted

Mr. Kondowe predicted an increase in cholera, hepatitis A, and other illnesses, as well as malnourishment and pregnancy problems.

Numerous thousands of youngsters seeking refuge in Rafah are already suffering from illnesses, injuries, malnourishment, trauma, or disability.

In a “catastrophic” action, Médecins Sans Frontières stated on Wednesday that its teams had started to release patients from Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, where they assisted with post-operative care, and had halted operations at its clinic in al-Shaboura.

The medical organisation also announced that it was handing over to the Gaza health ministry its operations at the Emirati maternity hospital.

As a result of Israeli troops seizing control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Tuesday, patients who were scheduled to receive medical care overseas are now stuck, according to Dr. Abu al-Rish.

Among others waiting to go is Haitham, a teenage lad with a bullet wound puncturing his lung that has already required three surgeries.

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“I feel powerless,” he uttered. “The world cannot force the border to open. The local hospitals are no longer able to assist me.

By the end of this week, Zeina, a nine-year-old girl with epilepsy, was also supposed to be sent overseas.

Her mother told Gaza Lifeline, “She went to the hospital for hepatitis and her liver function tests were very high and she fell into a coma.”

Zeina’s nerve cells had been damaged, and when she woke up after 14 days, she was unable to move, walk, or hold anything. They started her on medicine because she frequently shook her hands before putting her up for transfer.”

According to Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s spokesman, the troops were still engaged in combat with “terror targets and the smuggling of weapons in the area of eastern Rafah” on Thursday night.

“This activity supports the intelligence we had [that] Hamas used the area of the Rafah Crossing for terrorism,” he stated.

“We found several terrorist tunnel shafts in the area, which we are currently investigating and scanning, and so far, our forces have eliminated approximately 50 terrorists in this area during encounters and air strikes, and also during scans in the area.”

The UN claims that the fighting has made it hard for it to pick up supplies at the neighbouring Kerem Shalom goods crossing, despite the Israeli military’s announcement on Wednesday that it had reopened the border for humanitarian relief.

Furthermore, the World Health Organisation has warned that all hospitals in Rafah and other southern Gaza areas may soon have to cease operations unless they get fuel supplies in the next days.

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