Israeli troops in Gaza infected by deadly fungi, with one dead and 10 severely affected
Dangerous fungi in the soil of the Gaza Strip have caused the death of an Israeli soldier and the hospitalisation of at least 10 others earlier this month, Israeli media reported on Monday.
The Israeli soldier who was taking part in the ground assault on the besieged Gaza Strip was battling an infection in hospital for several days before succumbing to "serious injuries" resulting from different fungi infections, KAN News reported.
At least ten other soldiers were diagnosed with several fungal infections suffered during their offensive on Gaza.
The head of the Infectious Disease Unit and Laboratories at the Sheba Medical Center, Professor Gila Rahav, said on Tuesday during a radio interview that the fungi was present in the local soil in Gaza, and had not appeared during previous wars on the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Rahav pointed out the possibility that the source of these contaminated fungi might be soil pollution from sewage water, adding that investigations were underway to determine whether they originated from underground tunnels.
The Israeli Society for Infectious Diseases is reportedly due to hold an urgent meeting next week with epidemiological experts from the Israeli forces and the Health Ministry over diseases infecting troops during ground operations in Gaza.
Several international health and environmental agencies had warned at the start of Israel's relentless and indiscriminate military campaign against Gaza of a looming health crisis and environmental catastrophe after the collapse of the Palestinian territory's sewage treatment systems.
The Gaza Municipality had warned of the risk of areas in the northern part of Gaza City being flooded with sewage on 4 December, after its pumping stations ran out of fuel amid Israel's complete blockade on the Strip, which stopped the entry of fuel, medicine, water and food.
Hassani Mahna, the spokesperson for the Gaza Municipality, warned about the spread of diseases if the streets were flooded with sewage water, adding that it would exacerbate the already deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Israel's onslaught on Gaza has killed over 20,600 poeple - mostly women and children - and injured at least 54,500. The death toll is likely to drastically increase as many bodies remain buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
Hospitals and medical centres were not spared by Israel's indiscriminate campaign, resulting in the complete collapse of the healthcare system amid unprecedented destruction and displacement.