GAZA: Al-Shafaa Medical Complex in the Gaza Strip has become a refuge for more than 50,000 displaced Palestinians. Many of them are in makeshift tents outside, others have squeezed into the corridors and waiting rooms, even though the hospital is a target for the ongoing Israeli onslaught that started over a month ago.

Al-Shafaa, the largest medical center in Gaza, has been stretched to the limit. Doctors are battling to treat thousands of serious injuries despite severe shortages of medical resources, clean water and power.

The situation is exacerbated by the Israel Defense Forces’ repeated bombardment of the hospital and its ambulances under the pretext of eradicating Hamas. The most recent attack took place early on Friday, targeting the outpatient clinic, the obstetrics department, and the courtyard, leaving several Palestinians dead or injured.

Israel has claimed Hamas is using Al-Shafaa as its main command center, but the militant group denies that it uses hospitals for military purposes.

The IDF has also bombed several other hospitals in Gaza in recent days, including Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital and the Indonesian Hospital.

Displaced Palestinians at Al-Shafaa are finding the situation unbearable. They have been battling harsh conditions due to overcrowding, a lack of basic necessities including clean water, and power shortages. The medical center relies on weak solar-powered generators.

Abu Mohammad Al-Mallahi, who has been staying in a makeshift tent with his family outside the hospital, told Arab News that clean drinking water is hard to come by, and families have not been receiving any food parcels.

“Gaza has been divided into three parts, and we are in the area where there are no vegetables at all,” he said. “Even flour and bread — basically everything — is hard to obtain.”

People are taking life “one day at a time,” he added, wondering during the day if they will make it until nighttime, and knowing at night that they might not wake up in the morning.

“We are innocent civilians, and there are children and women here,” he said. “We call on the United Nations to come to our aid.”

The water shortage has forced people to drink seawater, putting thousands at risk of dehydration and disease.

Abu Mahmoud Hanniyyeh, whose family has also sought refuge outside Al-Shafaa, told Arab News they have resorted to drinking seawater.

“There is no drinking water, no food, no telephone or internet connection, and no access to social media,” he said.

Umm Rami, a displaced Gazan mother, said she has been craving a glass of clean water, and that young children have been drinking salty water. She also complained of a lack of medication and of food for children.

“Ill people cannot receive treatment,” she told Arab News. “I could not receive any (medical) treatment since midday yesterday.”

She added: “Death is more merciful than this life.”

At least 10,800 Palestinians have been killed, and many more wounded, since Israel’s assault began on October 7, when Hamas fighters carried out a surprise incursion into Israel. More than 2,650 remain missing.


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