A rare delivery of emergency medical supplies and medicines on Wednesday reached Al-Shifa hospital in the war-ravaged north of the Gaza Strip, the UN said, warning though that far more was needed.
In a joint statement, the heads of the United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees and the World Health Organization said the aid had reached Gaza’s largest hospital “despite huge risks to our staff and health partners due to the relentless bombardments”.
They highlighted that the delivery of life-saving supplies was only the second to reach the hospital, located in Gaza City, since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted over a month ago.
“While welcome, the quantities we delivered are far from sufficient to respond to the immense needs in the Gaza Strip,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of WHO, wrote in the statement.
They described conditions at the hospital as “disastrous”, with “almost two patients for every bed” as “the number of wounded increases by the hour”.
Doctors were being forced to treat wounded and sick patients in corridors, on the floor and outdoors, “while patients are undergoing immense and unnecessary pain as medicines and anaesthetics are running out,” they said.
At the same time, tens of thousands of displaced people had sought shelter in the hospital’s parking lots and yards.
Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza began from October 7, when Hamas fighters massacred at least 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages.
Israel has responded with relentless bombardment and a swelling ground offensive in Gaza, killing nearly 10,600 people, including more than 4,000 children, according to the territory’s Hamas-controlled health ministry.
More than 1.5 million people have fled their homes, including many heeding Israeli calls for the entire population of northern Gaza to go south.
The Israeli army said 50,000 people left north Gaza for the south on Wednesday alone.
Lazzarini and Tedros hailed doctors, nurses and other staff at Al-Shifa hospital for having “responded heroically to the current desperate situation”.
“But they need more support. The northern areas of Gaza cannot and should not be isolated nor deprived of the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” they insisted.
“Aid should reach the whole of Gaza.”
They pointed out that Al-Shifa and other medical facilities were fast running out of supplies and especially fuel, which has not been allowed into Gaza since the fighting began.
Lazzarini and Tedros urgently appealed for fuel deliveries to humanitarian agencies in Gaza.
“Without fuel, hospitals and other essential facilities such as desalination plants and bakeries cannot operate, and more people will most certainly die as a result.”