Gaza's Healthcare Crisis After Israeli Military Campaign


Israeli soldiers in Gaza in March in a photograph

,- Following Israel's attack of Gaza last year, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Reqeb's life was completely disrupted. He used to be a committed doctor at a major Gaza hospital and in private practice, but today he lives in a temporary tent in the Palestinian border town of Rafah. Many displaced Gazans have sought refuge in Rafah, especially pregnant women who want to escape the constant bombing.

Dr. Al-Reqeb provides his free medical services for patients in this homemade tent. Nevertheless, the circumstances are not perfect. Pregnant women he sees have a hard enough time getting food and water, let alone receiving proper prenatal care, in a community where Israeli airstrikes are a frequent reality.

After Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, the Israeli military began an unrelenting onslaught, and the situation in Gaza has worsened dramatically over the subsequent six months. Hundreds of healthcare personnel have been killed or jailed, and hospitals have been reduced to ruins. Ambulances have also been targeted. The situation has worsened since life-saving medical supplies cannot reach individuals who need them due to Israeli restrictions on products entering Gaza.

The effects have been catastrophic, and the hospital system in Gaza is about to collapse as a result. In late March, the World Health Organization reported that out of 36 large-scale hospitals in Gaza, only 10 had achieved minimal functionality. International organizations and humanitarian groups have denounced Israel's conduct, stating that the medical infrastructure in Gaza was deliberately destroyed.

Israeli authorities claim that medical institutions have been hit because they provide as cover for Hamas militants. Nonetheless, humanitarian organizations and healthcare providers deny these assertions, highlighting that innocent civilians are being targeted by the violence. While the level of this practice is yet unknown, there is evidence that Hamas has utilized certain medical facilities for military reasons.

Dr. Al-Reqeb is acutely aware of the conflict's effects. In February, Israeli forces invaded and badly damaged his former job, Nasser Hospital. Now he's battling to meet the enormous demand for medical treatment at an Emirati-funded hospital with little resources.

Patients have been tremendously affected. Pregnant women have lost access to life-sustaining monitoring, kidney failure sufferers have been denied dialysis, and cancer patients have been compelled to discontinue chemotherapy. Many people are suffering needlessly because medical care is practically impossible to deliver due to a lack of resources.

Damage to Gaza's healthcare infrastructure has had far-reaching effects. Dr. Zaki Zakzook, who was formerly a top cancer specialist, is now too sick to provide chemotherapy. Since there aren't enough funds, he can only provide palliative care, such as pain medication.

In a somber turn of events, Human Rights Watch demanded an investigation into Israeli attacks on healthcare facilities as possible war crimes in November. To emphasize the scope of the problem, the group recorded more than 800 assaults on healthcare facilities in the West Bank and Gaza.

Doctors like Dr. Al-Reqeb keep their dedication to their patients in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, hospitals are becoming more and more targets of violence, therefore the risks are getting worse. A number of healthcare staff have resigned out of fear of becoming casualties, which has worsened the situation.

The international community must increase its humanitarian aid and support efforts for the people of Gaza as the territory continues to recover from the destruction. A sobering reminder of the human toll of war and the critical importance of finding a peaceful conclusion is the situation in Gaza's hospital sector.

(Newsline Paper Teams/NYtimes)

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