Gaza is now “inhabitable”, says the United Nations Human Rights Office. Since October 7, the enclave has been subject to incessant and indiscriminate bombing. Without access, international observers are still struggling to determine the exact magnitude of the disaster. However, Aurélie Godard, head of the medical activities of Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, crossed to the north of the Palestinian enclave to ltake fuel count it what did you see.
Godard specifically targeted Al-Shifa hospital which was crippled after the Israeli army massively bombed the area around the facility. The hospital was hit several times by the attacks and then surrounded before being evacuated.
This hospital, the largest in the Gaza Stripgradually transformed into a camp for displaced people and now houses about 50,000 people. On site, the medical team is striving to maintain the population's access to medical care with the partial resumption of its activities.
“The main objective of the convoy in which I was traveling was to deliver 19,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa hospital. This fuel is essential because it is used to power the generators that supply electricity to the hospital,” says Godard in a statement to which he had access. Clarion. And in which he details hungry multitudes.
“We managed to pass the checkpoint separating northern and southern Gaza in the early afternoon, and immediately afterwards, our two cars and the fuel truck were surrounded by a crowd of quite young people who They demanded water and food. They were really disappointed that we only carried fuel. we had many difficulties to get through this crowd so dense of hungry people”.
“Everything is destroyed”
Godard's testimony is in line with statements by senior UN officials who describe an apocalyptic landscape in Gaza.
In November, the UN special rapporteur on housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, estimated that “45% of Gaza's homes had been destroyed or damaged by the Israeli attack.” In December, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borell, described an “apocalyptic” situation in Gaza. According to him, the level of destruction was equal to or even higher than that of Germany during World War II.
Photograph of a devastated area in the Gaza Strip. Photo: EFE
“As the months passed, shelling continued from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip. On the ground, there are fewer and fewer observers, making it more difficult to understand the situation. Many journalists have been killed and others have been killed. left. We have less and less images and data with which to analyze shootings and bombings,” laments Emily Tripp, director of Airwars.
This NGO investigates civilian victims of armed conflicts. “When people who document and bear witness to the damage caused by each attack are killed, the possibility of taking stock and identifying the perpetrators is also prevented,” she adds.
The Hamas Ministry of Health has already counted more than 26,700 dead and 65,000 wounded since the start of the military operation. “Beyond the human impact, we are seeing the destruction of an entire society,” says Emily Tripp. “Schools, water pipes, mosques… everything has been destroyed. everything is destroyed“, he denounces.
The state of Al Shifa hospital
When Godard finally arrived at the hospital, he found him standing, but very damaged.
“Al-Shifa hospital is still standing, but it is badly damaged and barely functioning. In the corridors, false ceilings have been torn off and we have seen IV bags (to supply medications to patients intravenously) hanging directly from the walls of the hospital, for lack of anything better,” he says.
The medical teams present on the scene managed to restart the emergency room, but it is largely occupied by hospitalized patients. The rest of the hospital is filled with displaced people seeking safety, according to Godard's description.
The outskirts of Al Shifa hospital. Photo: Ahikam Seri / AFP
Medical staff get receive, classify and stabilize injured peoplebut then they get a little stagnant, because there are a huge shortage of hospital beds. They have a resuscitation space, where people in critical condition and potentially life-threatening conditions can be treated.
“Patients here usually have chronic illnesses or were injured by a bullet or an explosion. During our visit we periodically heard explosions not far from the hospital,” he adds.
Thousands injured, no more hospitals
The lack of water, fuel, electricity and medicines is affecting the functioning of hospitals in general. “How can you operate without equipment, without light? Without electricity, there is also no incubator for premature babies. If a doctor cannot wash his hands, there are serious health problems. There are cascading consequences,” comments Christina Wille.
Wille is director of Insecurity Insight, a Swiss-based association that analyzes the impact of violence on the civilian population in terms of food security, health and education.
Hospitals were also affected by the bombings. “Some directly,” laments Wille. “Others, indirectly through explosions in the surrounding area.” In the case of Al Shifa the main oxygen generator was destroyed.
According to the WHO, only seven of the 24 hospitals in northern Gaza remain open. They only work partially. The same is true in southern Gaza, where only seven of the 12 hospitals They are partially operational, according to the UN agency. “With the Nasser Hospital and the European Hospital in Gaza out of commission, there is practically no health system left in Gaza,” says Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Palestine.
A day in Al Shifa
Godard says that “in the emergency room (in Al Shifa) we treated a seriously injured patient who had arrived the day before. He had had a tracheotomy, a chest tube, and abdominal surgery. He was surrounded by dozens of other patients in a room without electricitysince at that time there was a power outage and, therefore, his vital functions were not being monitored, because the monitoring devices were not working.”
He continues: “The team told us that they had recently lost a patient because they couldn't give him a blood transfusion. The blood bank is empty. “They work in terrible conditions.”
A large number of patients
“Al-Shifa staff are having difficulty caring for patients because the needs are enormous. There are many people in and around the hospital, mainly displaced people. There are still many people living in northern Gaza, and many of them have suffered trauma related to war wounds, but also due to poor living conditions and winter illnesses,” adds Godard.
“The number of patients is very high and medical staff have reported difficulties in many areas, whether it is a shortage of oxygen supply, electricity, medical equipment or simply food. All of this makes providing healthcare extremely difficult and they have enormous operational challenges to overcome. The 19,000 liters of fuel from the convoy will supply the hospital just for a week. For it to work, about 3,000 liters per day are needed.”
“My visit was very short – Godard concludes – since the trip from the south of the Gaza Strip took us too long and We were not allowed to stay there longer than necessary.. It was moving to see the surprise on the faces of patients, displaced families and hospital staff when they saw new people. “They had probably been locked up there for weeks.”
With information from RFI and Doctors Without Borders