The situation in the Palestinian enclave is “impossible to describe,” the head of the UN health watchdog says
The continued Israeli military campaign in Gaza has devastated the Palestinian enclave’s healthcare system and has led to heavy losses among the civilian population, including children, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the UN Security Council on Friday.
Since the start of the Israeli operation on October 7, the WHO has verified more than 250 attacks on the healthcare system in Gaza and the West Bank, including medical facilities, ambulances and patients, Ghebreyesus said, adding that the medical system in Gaza was “on its knees.” A total of 25 attacks on healthcare targets in Israel were reported over the same period, he added.
The situation in the Palestinian enclave is “impossible to describe,” the WHO chief said, adding that around 1.5 million people had to leave their homes, with tens of thousands of them having to seek shelter in hospitals and schools, which inevitably become overcrowded.
People are looking for shelter “anywhere they can find it,” Ghebreyesus said, adding that “nowhere and no one is safe” in Gaza. The Israeli bombardments and airstrikes, as well as the ongoing ground operation, have resulted in more than 10,800 deaths in Gaza, Ghebreyesus said. Most of those killed were women and children, he added.
The WHO chief also relayed a stark statistic: “On average, a child is killed every ten minutes in Gaza.”
Israel maintained it was making efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. Its ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, told the Security Council on Friday that his nation had created a special task force to establish hospitals in the southern part of the enclave.
“Israel is in advanced talks with the United Arab Emirates, with the ICRC and with other European countries regarding the establishment of field-hospital and floating-hospital ships,” the diplomat stated, adding that West Jerusalem had also “facilitated the Jordanian airdrop of medical aid to hospitals in northern Gaza.”
Erdan then said that Israel was supposedly doing more for Gaza than the WHO itself or any other UN body, for that matter.
Washington –West Jerusalem’s key ally– admitted on Friday that the Israeli actions had resulted in a massive number of casualties in Gaza. “Far too many” Palestinians have died in Israel’s retaliatory campaign against the Gaza-based Hamas militant group, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. The US has been seeking to convince Israel to introduce longer “humanitarian pauses,” in particular to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries to the enclave.