Gaza hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and desperately low on supplies as invasion looms
KHAN YOUNIS: Medics in Gaza warned Sunday that thousands could die as hospitals packed with wounded people ran desperately low on fuel and basic supplies. Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave struggled to find food, water and safety ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive in the war sparked by Hamas’ deadly attack.
Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of US warships in the region, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group.
A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished entire neighborhoods but failed to stem militant rocket fire into Israel.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded since the fighting erupted, more than in the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted over six weeks. That makes this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides.
The US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would return to Israel on Monday after completing a frantic six-country tour through Arab nations to prevent the fighting from igniting a broader regional conflict.
With the situation in Gaza growing increasingly desperate, the US named David Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkiye with years of experience in Mideast diplomacy, to be special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues.
On Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that Satterfield will focus on getting humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.
Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel within two days, endangering the lives of thousands of patients. According to the UN, Gaza’s sole power plant shut down for lack of energy after Israel wholly sealed off the 40-km long territory following the Hamas attack.
In Nasser Hospital, in the southern town of Khan Younis, intensive care rooms are packed with wounded patients, mostly children under 3.
Hundreds of people with severe blast injuries have come to the hospital, where fuel is expected to run out by Monday, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, a consultant at the critical care complex.
There are 35 patients in the ICU who require ventilators and another 60 on dialysis.
If fuel runs out, “it means the whole health system will be shut down,” he said, as children moaned in pain in the background.
“All these patients are in danger of death if the electricity is cut off.”
Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, the head of pediatrics at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, said the facility did not evacuate despite Israeli orders.
He said seven newborns in the ICU are hooked up to ventilators.
Evacuating “would mean death for them and other patients under our care.”
Patients keep arriving with severed limbs, severe burns and other life-threatening injuries, he said.
Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory’s largest, said it would bury 100 bodies in a mass grave as an emergency measure after its morgue overflowed. Tens of thousands of people seeking safety have gathered in the hospital compound.
Gaza was already in a humanitarian crisis due to a growing shortage of water and medical supplies caused by the Israeli siege.
Sullivan told CNN that Israeli officials told him they had turned the water back on in southern Gaza.
Israel’s minister of energy and water, Israel Katz, said in a statement that water had been restored at one “specific point” in Gaza.
Aid workers in Gaza said they had not yet seen evidence the water was back.
Israel has ordered more than 1 million Palestinians — almost half the territory’s population — to move south.
The military says it is trying to clear away civilians ahead of a major campaign against Hamas in the north, where it says the militants have extensive networks of tunnels, bunkers and rocket launchers.
Hamas urged people to stay in their homes, and the Israeli military released photos it said showed a Hamas roadblock preventing traffic from moving south.