Ambulance in Gaza with injured infant

Gaza: State of medical affairs

Due to the 8 year long blockade of Gaza, the hospitals already faced a shortage of supplies, inadequate electricity. With the ground invasion by the Jewish military state, it has truly reached a crisis situation. Medical facilities (hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres and facilities for the disabled) as well as medics/ambulances are being specifically targeted and bombed (which are war crimes):

The UNRWA has declared a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and so has the Health Ministry. The intentional destruction of civil infrastructure such as power grid, water lines and sewage treatment are causing havoc and disease is spreading. Dr. Mads, Gilbert, a Norwegian physician and professor has been in Gaza for three wars. He has seen the shortage of supplies and power, and the injuries the Jewish military state is causing with its use of internationally banned weapons such as DIME, white phosphorous, and flechettes. He has given interviews to international media on the situation in Gaza and the result of the use of these banned weapons.

On 14 July, he gave an interview to Democracy Now! in which he detailed the dire circumstances of Gaza’s health system.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mona El-Farra, we’re also joined by Dr. Mads Gilbert, the Norwegian doctor who has just come back to Gaza, who submitted a report to the United Nations on the state of health in Gaza. Dr. Gilbert, I know you have a long line of patients there, but—and we had hoped to have you all on a satellite connection, but it’s very difficult with the electricity going out constantly. You rarely in the media see direct reports from Gaza in the same way that you do from Jerusalem, from other parts of Israel. Dr. Mads Gilbert, what are you seeing right now?

DR. MADS GILBERT: Well, I’m seeing the staff in Shifa Hospital doing their utmost to care for the people, the Palestinian people who are being bombed constantly by the overwhelming military force of the Israeli military. And really, I mean, it’s extremely impressive to see their resilience, their determination and the way they cope with these extremely harsh conditions that they’re in now.

As you said, so far, close to 170 Palestinians have been killed, among them 36 children and 24 women. And among the 1,232 injured, there are 346 children and 256 women. So, 50 percent of the injured are women and children. Now, this tells you that these attacks are not targeting the militarists in Palestine, in Gaza. These attacks are targeting the whole population in order to intimidate them and to force them to give up their resistance. I’ve been to Gaza through the last 17 years, and every time it is the same story. Israelis are accusing the Palestinians of attacking them; they have to defend themselves, they claim. Actually, the truth is the exact opposite. Israel is the attacker, the occupant. Internationally, they are responsible, according to the law, for the security and the well-being of the occupied population, whereas in fact Israel is doing their utmost to kill them and to make their life as miserable as possible through these seven years of siege.

And I would like to add that I work in a Norwegian university hospital, and we are depending on the same sort of preconditions to handle mass casualty situations. The Palestinian hospitals are denied a constant supply of energy, of water, of disposables, medical drugs—all the items you need to run a university-level hospital. And on top of this, on top of this total drainage of resources from the siege, they are now exposed to this constant and very large flow of very severely injured. And they are not crippled. On the contrary, they stand tall. They have doubled or tripled their shifts. They do 24-hour shifts. Everyone is extremely tired and exhausted, but they don’t yield. They don’t leave their positions. And yesterday, the hospital director in Shifa, Dr. Nasr’s home was completely bombed and destroyed by the Israeli forces. And we have, of course, nurses and doctors and other ambulance drivers being injured and even killed. So, I think it’s important to understand that the Palestinians, yes, they are suffering, but they are not begging. Yes, they are oppressed, but they are standing extremely strong together in this time of crisis.

As a medical doctor, you know, my appeal is: Don’t send bandages. Don’t send syringes. Don’t send medical teams. The most important medical thing you can do now is to force Israel to stop the bombing, and it is to lift the siege of Gaza. Then the Palestinians will manage well themselves.

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