Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- You could see the blood flowing from the wound beneath the bandages covering his thigh as he cried out in pain; while doctors and nurses rushed from his side towards a young girl, aged 4, who had been brought in after Israeli soldiers had opened fire on her shooting her directly in the chest.

This injured man was just one of the Palestinian resistance fighters injured on Monday night in a clash with Israeli Marine Commandos [MCF] on the shores of Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. This clash left 10 Palestinian fighters dead and 30 wounded who were later transferred to “Shuhuda Al Aqsa” hospital.

One of the nurses informed Asharq Al-Awsat that due to the large number of wounded suffering from blood-loss, the small hospital that caters for 250 thousand people in the central Gaza region was suffering from a shortage of blood-clotting drugs [haemostatic agents]. The nurse admitted that due to the large number of patients, and the lack of amenities, the hospital staff concentrated on treating those who could conceivably recover [from their wounds].

The “Shuhuda Al Aqsa” hospital reception hall, a space no larger than 50 meters squared, has been transformed into an operating room for minor injuries, while three other sections have been transformed into surgical operating rooms.

One of the doctors informed Asharq Al-Awsat that under normal circumstances most surgeries are performed at “Dar Al-Shifa” hospital in Gaza on the basis that facilities are better, and their medical team more medically specialized [for surgical procedures]. However, due to the large number of patients at “Dar Al-Shifa” hospital, in addition to the route connecting Gaza with the central Gaza Strip being shut down after Israeli tanks stationed themselves at the “Al Shuhuda” junction. This has resulted in the medical staff [at Shuhuda Al Aqsa hospital] being forced to perform surgeries on those wounded in the Israeli attacks.

Another nurse informed Asharq Al-Awsat that one of the reasons making it impossible for the hospital to properly treat the injured is the severe lack of intensive care equipment that the wounded are in need of, including equipment which monitors patients’ vital signs [Electrocardiograph or ECG machine] and medical ventilators.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Musaddar, Director of the “Shuhuda Al Aqsa” hospital who was busy working with medical teams treating the wounded said that there are shortages in all areas, including iodine, bandages, medicines and drugs, anesthetic, and sutures.

A third nurse told Asharq Al-Awsat that the biggest danger facing the hospital comes from the lack of fuel to power the sensory medical equipment needed to monitor critical patients. He added that the electricity [in the Gaza Strip] cuts out for long periods of time where the hospital is forced to rely on fuel-powered electrical-generators, in time this fuel could run out to the point of catastrophe potentially resulting in the deaths of a large number of patients.

Another difficulty revealed by the nurse to Asharq Al-Awsat is that due to Gaza being cut off from the rest of the Gaza Strip [by the Israeli army]; especially since the “Shuhuda Al Aqsa” hospital crucially relies on medical reserves kept at the Ministry of Health. The nurse warned that if Israel continues to cut off Gaza from the main Gaza Strip, the hospital’s remaining medical supplies would soon be depleted.

The nurse also said that the hospital staff was exhausted, with the majority of the staff working 24 hour shifts to treat the wounded. He also revealed that the hospital is in need of a new mortuary cold chamber as the original is full to the capacity with corpses, while Asharq Al-Awsat also saw a room full of corpses being used as a [temporary] morgue.