The NGO Doctors Without Borders warned this Friday that the Israeli bombings in Gaza had “disappeared a huge cohort” of new patients with “physical and psychological injuries that will last a long time”.
More than 250 people were killed and nearly 2,000 injured in Israeli attacks during confrontation with Palestinian militias in the Palestinian enclave. In Israel, however, rockets and other projectiles fired from Gaza killed 13, including a child and a teenager, and injured more than 700 people.
The 11 days of Israeli bombing have further deteriorated the basic infrastructure of the Gaza Strip. The NGO estimates that half of the electrical systems are no longer working and more than a dozen medical structures, including the central laboratory for conducting COVID-19 tests on the strip, have been damaged.
Al Awda Hospital, where MSF operates a surgical unit, was also damaged by several nearby missiles. The logistics office and other areas of the hospital have been damaged and a full assessment of the extent of the damage is currently underway.
MSF is also aware that the population has “tremendous difficulties in accessing medical care and a lack of basic services and needs”.
In addition to the difficulty of getting to the medical centers, there was also the fact that supplies of medicines and medical supplies were running out because it was impossible to get supplies to the Strip during the days the bombings took place . The Erez Junction, the main entry point for goods between Israel and Gaza, was closed for ten days in a row, making it impossible to send supplies and medical instruments to the facilities where the wounded were being cared for.
MSF reinforcement teams were finally able to access Gaza on May 24 with basic and necessary items for the care of the wounded, such as blood bags for transfusions. To this day, however, MSF condemns that shipping materials and medical personnel to Gaza remains extremely complicated, adding to the difficulties caused by the shortage of items and basic services such as water, electricity and fuel, common even before the bombings .
“Gaza is in a permanent humanitarian crisis due to the ongoing economic blockade. The escalation of violence in the last two weeks has only contributed to exacerbating an already catastrophic situation,” says the general coordinator of Doctors. Without Frontiers (MSF) in Gaza, Helen Ottens-Patterson.
The ceasefire has brought relative calm over the past week, but the difficulties all of these people will have to go through in order to rebuild everything that has been destroyed and get on with their lives will be enormous, “he adds.
MSF is collecting cases like that of Hani, 26, whose leg was destroyed by debris. She has to be reconstructed and plastic operated several times before she can walk again. It will likely take a while to get used to her new situation.
Mohammed, 31, had just finished a round of treatment to cure the bone infection in his leg and managed to get out of the hospital. However, the rise in prices in the pharmacies prevented him from continuing the treatment prescribed by the doctors as usual, so he had to go back to the hospital.
It remains to be seen how the coronavirus pandemic has developed after those 11 days of attacks, although the forecasts are poor. “Currently we do not have a clear view of the epidemic situation as the only laboratory where diagnostic tests for the coronavirus have been destroyed, but we are obviously concerned about the possibility of an increase in infections,” explained Tatiana Chiarella, doctor for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza.