By Humaira Ahad
In the dark and gloomy corridors of hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip, a public health catastrophe of ominous proportions is unfolding at the moment amid the Israeli regimeís unrelenting aerial blitz.
Some hospitals have completely run out of fuel, prompting doctors to perform high-risk medical procedures using flashlights on their mobile phones, according to eye-witnesses.
Screams of pain pierce through the rooms of these hospitals that have turned into makeshift tent cities catering not only to patients but also to displaced civilians seeking refuge from the bombardment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the humanitarian and health crisis in the besieged coastal strip that has been reeling under Israeli bombings has reached "catastrophic proportions."
More than one-third of the cityís hospitals are no longer operating because of the damages suffered from the bombardment and Israelís decision to cut off fuel supplies to the besieged enclave.
The word health body reported that 46 out of 72 clinics offering health services have already been shut down, leaving thousands of people without any form of medical aid amid the unfolding health crisis.
Doctors fear that if the fuel supply exhausts and electricity shut off completely in all hospitals, thousands of people, including neonatal babies in incubators, wounded people in intensive care units, terminally ill on ventilators and kidney dialysis patients among others will be at risk.
"If the electricity supply of a hospital is cut, monitoring equipment, oxygen delivery, ventilators, operation theatres that require electricity to function will stop working," a doctor in the Gaza Strip told the Press TV website, requesting anonymity.
According to reports, surgeries are being performed without anesthesia or other basic surgical supplies.
According to doctors on the ground, procuring sterilizing surgical equipment has become impossible, which has left them with no option but to use vinegar and detergent to clean wounds, clothes for bandages and sewing needles in place of surgical ones.
Health experts warn that using sewing needles to stitch wounds can lead to tissue damage while wrapping clothes around injuries carries the risk of causing serious infection.
With the shortage of medicine, antibiotics have been rationed and single pills are given to patients requiring multiple courses to fight terrible bacterial infections.
Outbreak of diseases
Amid its bombing campaign on the besieged territory, Israel has also cut the water supply to the Gaza Strip.
"We are facing a health crisis because Palestinians are forced to drink unsafe and contaminated water," the Red Crescent team working in Gaza told media.
According to health experts, a lack of access to clean drinking water can have dire consequences.
Presently one to three liters per person per day is available in Gaza (this includes water for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.) while the absolute minimum is 15 liters, according to the WHO guidelines.
International organizations have been warning about the spread of water-borne diseases and scabies because of the lack of clean water in the territory known as a "concentration camp."
Amid the intensification of the blockade, Gaza is witnessing outbreaks of chickenpox, scabies, and diarrhea due to the deteriorating health environment, lack of sanitation, and consumption of water from unsafe sources, according to health authorities in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Doctors have been warning that in the absence of clean drinking, water dehydration, illnesses due to lack of hygiene and the spread of waterborne diseases can be very ominous.
"It has become a matter of life and death. It is a must; fuel needs to be delivered now into Gaza to make water available for 2 million people" said Philippe Lazzarini, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) commissioner general.
"If not people will start dying of severe dehydration, among them young children, the elderly and women. Water is now the last remaining lifeline."
Bombing healthcare services
The Zionist regimeís incessant bombing has not even spared hospitals and health workers.
Palestinian health authorities say the regime warplanes have been deliberately bombing hospitals, and ambulances, in breach of international conventions that deem such attacks as war crimes.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society recently condemned "the intentional targeting of medical teams", that killed paramedics, despite prior coordination with the regimeís officials.
Slamming Israelís repeated order for hospitals in northern Gaza to be evacuated, the World Health Organization described it as a "death sentence" for the sick and the injured.
"Forcing more than 2000 patients to relocate to southern Gaza, where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number of patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence," the UNís health body said.
The statement added that the lives of those in intensive care or those relying on life support - including newborns in incubators and those needing hemodialysis - now hang in the balance.
After the attack on the Al-Ahli Hospital killed over 500 people, the Zionist regime threatened to bomb other hospitals as well, including the Al-Shifa Hospital, Indonesian Hospital and Al-Quds Hospital.
On Saturday, Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in the close vicinity of the Al-Shifa Hospital and Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV.
Earlier, the Israeli regime called for the evacuation of the Al-Quds Hospital, which has been housing more than 400 patients and 12,000 displaced people, the Palestine Red Crescent group reported.
Gazaís Ministry of Health announced that the pediatric hospital al Durrahin in eastern Gaza was also not spared from Israeli strikes and the patients were forced to evacuate after it was targeted by internationally banned white phosphorus rounds.
The pediatric hospital provides essential medical care to thousands of children in Gaza.
With the impossibility of providing routine health care, the bombing of medical centers has put the lives of many in jeopardy.
Patients who are on life support or critically ill receiving treatment for terminal illnesses like cancer, organ failure, infants in incubators and pregnant women with complications face the threat of losing their lives or imminent deterioration of their health condition if forced to evacuate.
Dead bodies piling
Gazaís largest hospital Al Shifa has been working far beyond its capacity past three weeks.
As per the figures given by Abu Selmia, the director of the hospital, the premier medical institute in northern Gaza has a capacity of 700 beds but presently is treating over 5,000 people.
More than 1,000 kidney dialysis patients have had their session time reduced from four hours to 2.5 hours per patient, according to Palestineís Ministry of Health.
About 9,000 cancer patients rely on chemotherapy to stay alive and the only hospital providing this service is running on a single generator expected to stop working anytime, the ministry noted.
According to the staff at Al Shifa Hospital, the situation at its morgue is worrying as it reached its full capacity days ago and is overflowing with bodies lying even in hallways and courtyards increasing the chances of the spread of an epidemic.
The hospital is at the moment home to more than 60,000 displaced Palestinians, which also provides a ground for the spread of infectious diseases, according to health experts.
The UNRWA announced that Gaza is facing a shortage of body bags for the dead, and people have resorted to storing dead bodies in ice cream trucks.
"Nothing can be as worse as not being able to find shrouds to cover your loved ones, forcing you to use old pieces of cloth or garbage bags to wrap the dead bodies," said a doctor working in Gaza.
On Friday, the Gaza health ministry released a 200-plus page report listing those killed in the Israeli bombings since October 7, including nearly 3,000 children.