As Ellen mentioned, aid groups have been pleading for more supplies and fuel, saying their operations may have to end without the necessary resources. Juliet Tuma, the Director of Communications for the UN agency that oversees the Palestinian territories, spoke about the current situation.
When asked about the status of UNRA’s operations in Gaza, Tuma sadly reported that they have reached a point where they could not resume their humanitarian operations. They were unable to pick up trucks of humanitarian assistance from the borders with Egypt due to a communications blackout and a shortage of fuel.
Tuma clarified that they can only continue delivering humanitarian assistance once they acquire the necessary fuel and when telecommunications networks are restored. When asked about the possibility of this happening, Tuma expressed hope but also highlighted the challenges they have been facing with obtaining fuel and the overall restrictions they have encountered.
Regarding the people taking refuge in UNRA shelters, Tuma explained that their situation is desperate. These displaced families rely on UNRA for safety, protection, and assistance. However, without fuel and ongoing bombardments, their access to food, electricity, and proper sanitation becomes severely limited. The dire conditions have worsened since the last conversation, with the number of colleagues killed now at 103.
Joseph Bello, the Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, also spoke about the situation in Gaza, particularly at Al-Shifa hospital. The situation there has deteriorated significantly, with limited communication and no access to water or food. Gunfire has targeted the facility, resulting in casualties among the medical staff and a lack of medical resources for patients. The health system in northern Gaza has ground to a halt, causing further suffering and loss of life.
Electricity supplies in northern Gaza have been cut off, leaving hospitals without power. The situation is dire, with the al Shifa hospital on the brink of becoming a mass grave. The hospital has been under fire, and medical care is now being provided solely through the efforts of individual doctors and nurses who refuse to leave their patients’ sides. One doctor has taken in three young children who have no surviving family. Despite the lack of supplies, these medical professionals continue to provide care to a limited number of patients.
The health care system in northern Gaza has collapsed, with most hospitals shut down entirely. Only one hospital, the Ali Arab Hospital, is still operating, but it is overwhelmed with patients. Doctors and staff are faced with a difficult decision – whether to evacuate and stop giving care or to stay and risk their lives. They have pleaded for corridors to evacuate themselves and other patients, but these requests have been denied. Evacuations have not been possible, and attempts to leave have resulted in people being fired upon. The situation is desperate, with bodies lying on the ground and nowhere for patients to go.
In southern Gaza, leaflets are being dropped telling people to evacuate, but there is no surplus medical capacity in that area to accommodate them. The ground operation is advancing further into southern Gaza, leaving people with nowhere to flee. There is a small glimmer of hope, as 15 surgeons and medical specialists have been able to cross the border into southern Gaza and are now working at Nasser Hospital. However, the overall situation remains dire, with a total of 27 hospitals completely shut down and the remaining nine only partially functional.
The systematic attacks on healthcare facilities, combined with the ongoing siege, are in violation of international humanitarian law. Doctors Without Borders is calling for a ceasefire, but so far, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears in the international community. A complete ceasefire is the only humane way forward at this point.