Israel-Gaza Conflict | Gaza’s healthcare crisis exacerbates as North Gaza left without functional hospitals

New Delhi, Dec 21: The World Health Organization (WHO) reports a dire situation in northern Gaza, where a lack of fuel, staff, and supplies has rendered all hospitals non-functional. Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative in Gaza, conveyed the severity of the situation, stating that there are currently no operational hospitals in the northern region. Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which was the last functioning facility, is now minimally operational. The intense fighting across the territory, coupled with shortages of supplies and power, has crippled medical facilities.

The WHO and UN teams, after visiting al-Ahli on Wednesday, reported overwhelming conditions at the hospital. Emergency care demands have surged, and the courtyard is now filled with rows of bodies. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed that until two days ago, al-Ahli was the sole facility conducting surgeries in northern Gaza, but the operating theatres are now non-functional.

Currently, only nine out of 36 health facilities remain partially operational, all located in southern Gaza. The last remaining hospital in the north, al-Ahli, has ceased admitting new patients.

Simultaneously, diplomatic efforts are underway in Cairo to negotiate a new truce and secure the release of Israeli hostages. The U.S. acknowledges “serious negotiations” for a new Gaza truce, but Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who is in Cairo, reportedly rejected the idea of a temporary pause during talks in Cairo on Wednesday. The Hamas leader asserted that no more Israeli hostages would be released until a permanent ceasefire is reached, while Israel maintains that the war will persist until Hamas is dismantled.

Approximately 120 hostages are believed to still be in captivity out of the 240 taken to Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 attacks. In a previous ceasefire at the end of November, 105 hostages were released in exchange for around 300 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Families of the remaining hostages are urging the Israeli government to reach a new truce to facilitate their release.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces claim to have uncovered a network of tunnels in Gaza City, connecting to the houses of Hamas leaders. The tunnels, believed to cover around 300 miles, are equipped with spiral staircases, heavy blast doors, electricity, and plumbing. Israel Defence Forces allege that these tunnels serve as hideouts for Hamas leaders to plan operations against Israel. Originally constructed for smuggling goods before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005, they have become a strategic asset for Hamas.


The death toll in Gaza continues to rise, with the Gaza health ministry reporting 20,000 casualties since Israel initiated its military campaign on October 7. Observers suggest that the actual death toll may be higher, considering unaccounted bodies under rubble or those not taken to hospitals. Despite the urgent need for humanitarian pauses, the UN Security Council has repeatedly postponed discussions. A draft resolution by the United Arab Emirates, advocating for urgent humanitarian pauses, the return of hostages, and a two-state solution, faces obstacles, with the main point of contention being the inspection and monitoring of humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

Diplomatic negotiations are tense as the U.S. works to avoid another veto. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the focus on ensuring aid delivery to Gaza remains uncomplicated. Earlier this month, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire, while most members supported it. The UK abstained, and Israel reiterated its stance against a permanent ceasefire until Hamas is dismantled.

In this volatile situation, with healthcare facilities in shambles, hostages held, and diplomatic efforts fraught with challenges, the people of Gaza continue to endure the devastating consequences of a protracted conflict. The international community grapples with finding a resolution that addresses the immediate humanitarian crisis and establishes a path toward lasting peace in the region.


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