In a striking blow to healthcare in Gaza, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has declared Al-Quds Hospital, Gaza City's second-largest medical facility, non-operational. The hospital's closure is attributed to a severe shortage of fuel and ongoing power outages, exacerbating an already dire situation.
The PRCS statement, released on Sunday, outlines a harrowing reality: “Medical staff are making every effort to provide care to patients and the wounded,” despite facing “dire humanitarian conditions and a shortage of medical supplies, food, and water”.
This collapse in healthcare services comes amidst a background of escalating conflict and deprivation. The PRCS expressed deep regret over this critical juncture, highlighting that despite repeated international appeals for urgent assistance, the situation remains unchanged.
Rising Tensions and Humanitarian Implications
The crisis at Al-Quds Hospital is a microcosm of the broader challenges in Gaza. The hospital, caught in the crossfire of ongoing Israeli bombardments, faces grave risks not only to its medical staff but also to patients and displaced civilians seeking refuge within its walls.
The PRCS's assertion of hospitals being under siege has been consistently denied by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The PRCS has pointed out the stark reality: with Al-Quds Hospital out of service, there remains only one operational hospital in Gaza, and two in the northern regions.
Compounding the fear and uncertainty, heavy direct fire and a tank encirclement around Al-Quds Hospital have been reported, with PRCS medics trapped inside. Addressing inquiries about the situation, the IDF stated: “The IDF is in the midst of ongoing intense fighting against Hamas in the vicinity of the area in question, and unlike Hamas, adheres to the law by taking all feasible measures to mitigate harm to civilians”.
The Broader Impact on Gaza's Healthcare
The crisis extends beyond Al-Quds Hospital. Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, is also embroiled in intense fighting. The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza reported a complete lack of food, water, or electricity, with patients and staff unable to leave the premises.
While Israel's military denies laying siege to Al-Shifa, they have offered assistance for anyone wishing to leave safely. This unfolding situation in Gaza highlights the intricate and devastating interplay between conflict and healthcare, with the closure of Al-Quds Hospital marking a significant escalation in the humanitarian crisis.