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Tragic Toll: WHO Denounces Lethal Strike on Gaza Refugee Camp

Published December 26, 2023
7 months ago

The World Health Organization has expressed its profound dismay over a deadly airstrike that struck a refugee camp in Gaza, describing the situation as "harrowing" after its staff visited a local hospital inundated with casualties. The UN health agency chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, conveyed distressing stories of the repercussions felt by health workers and victims alike, as he reflected on the devastating impact of the explosions via social media.

The tragedy unfolded late Sunday when Israeli strikes reportedly hit three houses within the Al-Maghazi refugee camp. The Gaza health ministry, operated by Hamas, cited a death toll of at least 70 individuals as a result of the attack. The verification of this figure remains independent of the AFP's reporting capabilities. The Israeli military has acknowledged the event and has expressed they are conducting a review, reaffirming their commitment to comply with international law and the imperative to minimize civilian harm.

A heart-rending scene was revealed at Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah, where rows of victims, enshrouded in white, awaited a mass funeral. The hospital, overwhelmed by the sudden influx of around 100 casualties, struggled with the demands far exceeding its capacity in beds and staff. Tedros has warned of the dire consequences for many who are forced to wait for treatment and emphasized the necessity of an immediate ceasefire.

The surge in conflict can be traced back to October 7 when Hamas initiated attacks on Israel, leading to approximately 1,140 deaths, predominantly among civilians, and taking 250 hostages, as per statistics rooted in Israeli data compiled by the AFP. Israel's subsequent military response has resulted in over 20,670 deaths, the majority being women and children, according to figures reported by Gaza's health ministry.

Exacerbating the grim circumstances, WHO Emergency Medical Teams coordinator Sean Casey detailed the agonizing situation of a nine-year-old boy named Ahmed, who sustained critical injuries, with medical staff only able to provide palliative sedation. This incident underscores the crippling lack of resources and capacity to manage complex trauma cases.

A stark reminder of the deteriorating healthcare infrastructure is WHO's report indicating that only nine out of the original 36 hospitals in Gaza are somewhat operational. Casey's reflection on the devastation conveyed a call to action for the international community, denouncing the situation as unacceptable and advocating fervently for a ceasefire.

In conclusion, the WHO's visit to Gaza has laid bare the acute humanitarian crisis prompted by the recent airstrikes. A ceasefire is urgently advocated to prevent further loss of innocent lives and alleviate the overburdened healthcare system in the besieged region.

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