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Gaza hospitals face catastrophe as Israel cuts power, water

Gaza hospitals face 'catastrophic situation' as Israel cuts off water, electricity supplies
3 min read
11 October, 2023
The situation in Gaza is 'catastrophic' and hospitals are 'overwhelmed', the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, warning that the situation will worsen.
MSF head in Palestine has said that the intensity of the violence and Israeli bombardments was shocking, as was the death toll [Getty]

The situation in Gaza is "catastrophic" and hospitals are "overwhelmed", the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) charity said on Wednesday, warning that the situation will worsen as Israel threatens to cut off water and electricity to the strip amid relentless bombing.

Léo Cans, Jerusalem-based MSF head of mission for Palestine, described the Israeli bombardment on the heavily populated strip as "very intense", adding that the number of wounded was "extremely high".

“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic; the hospitals are overwhelmed. The number of wounded is extremely high – there is a constant influx into all the hospitals in the Gaza Strip," Cans said. "The medical teams are exhausted, working around the clock to treat the wounded."

Since Saturday, Israel has launched its fiercest attack on the Gaza Strip in 75 years, killing at least 1,055 people in the besieged enclave, which is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.

"Entire buildings are being destroyed, including one last night right next to the MSF office," Cans said, adding that people - including MSF team members - would receive a text message in the middle of the night telling them to evacuate their homes.

"You have to wake up your children in the middle of the night and leave your house, without taking any of your belongings, to get to safety," the MSF head in Palestine said.

"The intensity of the violence and bombardments is shocking, as is the death toll," he said, warning that Israel's declaration of war "must not, under any circumstances, lead to collective punishment of the population of Gaza".

Israel to cut off water, fuel

The Israeli government also threatened to completely cut off water and electricity supplies, and the phone network has been badly damaged, The New Arab's correspondent in Gaza said.

"This morning, we were unable to reach our teams in Gaza by phone. Inevitably, this all makes it extremely difficult to coordinate rescue operations and access the injured," Cans confirmed.

The Gaza Strip's sole power plant shut down on Wednesday afternoon after running out of fuel.

"Cutting off water, electricity and fuel supplies is unacceptable, as it punishes the entire population and deprives them of their basic needs," Cans said.

Medical facilities have not been spared

MSF said it was very concerned to see that medical facilities were not been spared by Israel's bombardment.

"One of the hospitals we support was hit by an airstrike and damaged," the charity said. "Another airstrike destroyed an ambulance carrying the wounded, right in front of the hospital where we work."

The charity called for the respect of medical facilities, adding "This is not something that should have to be negotiated".

Cans said: "[An] MSF team, who were operating on a patient, had to leave the hospital in a hurry," as a result of the bombing.

"Yesterday morning, we received a 13-year-old boy whose body was almost completely burned after a bomb fell right next to his house, starting a fire", Cans said. "These are very complicated cases to treat in such conditions and, when children are involved, it's very hard to bear."

Mental distress

MSF also said that people in Gaza were "terrified". 

"They are very tough people because, unfortunately, they have lived through a lot of wars, but the current situation is causing them extreme anxiety," the medics NGO said, adding that this time there was "no way out".

"They are in terrible mental distress. There aren't words to describe what people are going through."