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UN Gaza operation may end in mere hours amid fuel shortage, several hospitals suffer ‘total collapse’

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsened this week amid an escalating Israeli offensive against Hamas. The entire area has been left without electricity, fuel and fresh water after Israel shut supplies at the onset of war and blocked fresh fuel shipments. Against this backdrop UN officials warned on Tuesday that their operations in the coastal strip would cease in a matter of hours. Dozens of hospitals and health centers have ‘completely collapsed’ amid the fuel crunch and many patients remain at risk.

Juliette Touma – the UNRWA director of communications – warned on Tuesday that the aid agency would have to halt operations by Wednesday night if there was no more fuel. According to the UNRWA 54 trucks have entered Gaza from Egypt over the past three days carrying food, water and medicine. The number is however a far cry from the roughly 500 aid and commercial trucks that used to enter Gaza daily before the war.

“We need a flow of supplies into Gaza and we need fuel…People in Gaza will be more miserable and desperate than they already are (if the UN stops relief operations),” she told World at One on BBC Radio 4.

Meanwhile hospitals – already reeling under an increasing influx of injured civilians and dwindling supplies – are now at risk of an absolute shutdown. The World Health Organization said 12 hospitals out of a total of 35 in Gaza were not functioning as of Monday. It said 46 out of 72 health care facilities across Gaza were now inactive – mostly in Gaza city and northern Gaza.

“For people in the Gaza Strip, the situation is desperate. It will become catastrophic without the safe and continuous passage of fuel and health supplies, and additional humanitarian assistance,” a WHO statement added.

Aid organisations delivered 34,000 litres (8981.85 gallons) of fuel on Monday to four major hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent. However this amount is only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours. Others including the territory’s largest Shifa hospital continue to wait for WHO supplies and fuel.

Around 2000 cancer patients are at risk in the partially functional the Turkish Friendship Hospital – Gaza’s only oncology hospital. Reports quoting doctors at Gaza also flagged the ‘grave risk’ posed to at least 130 premature babies currently housed in incubators. Such children – unable to breathe on their own – will perish almost immediately if the flow of electricity is stopped.

“We confirm that 12 hospitals and 32 health centers are out of service, and we fear that more will be out of service in the coming hours due to targeting and running out of fuel,” said a statement shared by the Hamas-run ministry of health on Telegram.

(With inputs from agencies)


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Updated: 24 Oct 2023, 10:42 PM IST

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UN Gaza operation may end in mere hours amid fuel shortage, several hospitals suffer ‘total collapse’


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