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The situation for Gaza hospitals remains grim after pause in fighting


Fighting resumed in Gaza today, with Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas, and that's going to leave hospitals in Gaza in even more dire conditions. Even with the recent pause in fighting, they were already on the brink of collapse, as NPR's Brian Mann in Tel Aviv and producer Anas Baba in Gaza report.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: This morning, as Israeli bombs started falling again, NPR producer Anas Baba was able to visit one of the hospitals still operating in Rafah, in southern Gaza, as families brought in their wounded and their dead.

ANAS BABA, BYLINE: Lots of people are around. And then I saw a child, and his father was holding him and, I mean, crying. At least 40 injured people are getting treatment from the medical crew in Rafah.

MANN: Before fighting resumed, medical workers were telling NPR the weeklong cease-fire had done little to shore up the collapsing hospital system in Gaza. Dr. Rana Abdul Jawwad works in the ICU at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. Speaking to NPR earlier this week, she said everything was in desperately short supply.

RANA ABDUL JAWWAD: Supplements, fuel and the main power. All patients have a high risk and needs attention. Then if you lose power, they will die.

MANN: Dr. Mohamed Yasouri also works at Nasser Hospital, in the emergency room. Speaking before today's resumption of fighting, he said the number of wounded and displaced persons seeking help was already overwhelming.

MOHAMED YASOURI: The condition in this hospital is so bad because we are loading everything on our shoulders.

MANN: According to Gaza's health ministry, tens of thousands of Palestinians were wounded in the first phase of the war - before the seven-day truce. Yasouri said they lacked proper equipment to help many of those people.

YASOURI: We have many amputation cases. We can save life or save organs if we have enough medical equipment, but we haven't.

MANN: The United Nations has documented cases during this war where hospitals in Gaza have been hit directly by Israeli fire. In a statement sent today to NPR, Israel's military acknowledged suffering caused by disruptions to hospitals. Israeli officials blamed the crisis on Hamas fighters, who they say have placed command centers inside medical facilities. Dr. Margaret Harris, with the World Health Organization in Geneva, said the end result is millions of Palestinians with nowhere to turn when wounded or sick.

MARGARET HARRIS: This is a man-made catastrophe. It looks like an earthquake, a famine and a massive epidemic. And these are all created by men.

MANN: In addition to war trauma, the WHO has documented a huge spike in illness in Gaza - more than 100,000 cases of acute respiratory infections since October 7 and more than 36,000 cases of diarrhea in children under the age of 5. Harris says, during the pause in fighting, relief trucks and ambulances did arrive in Gaza, but it was nowhere near enough. She predicted things will continue to get worse until this war ends.

HARRIS: The only logical answer is a true cease-fire.

MANN: Instead, there's now more fighting. Speaking before the truce collapsed, Dr. Mohamed Yasouri in the Nasser Hospital's emergency room sounded desperate.

YASOURI: As a doctor, I have one message. We are in a catastrophe - disaster.

MANN: He said there was nothing more they could do to keep their patients safe. They had already run out of supplies and options.

With Anas Baba in Gaza, I'm Brian Mann, NPR News in Tel Aviv.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Brian Mann
Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.

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